- Michael Szafranski
- Welcome to my blog. For those of you who do not know, I, Michael Szafranski, was recently released from the Federal Prison Camp in Miami, Florida where I spent 11 months. It took six years from the time that I knew I was under investigation to the day I reported to prison. In many ways those six years were worse than the 11 months I actually sat. This blog is going to deal with many of the issues facing people like myself who are just trying to navigate the legal system when they find out they are in trouble and are thrown into the crazy world that is our criminal justice system. My case was kind of high profile so I dealt with it all. I am sharing what I learned so that others will be a little more prepared as to how to deal with various situations and to hopefully shed a little bit of light on what really goes on in the system. Please email me with any questions and if you would like to utilize my consulting services. Appreciate any comments and critiques! Follow along as I publish my book at https://www.wattpad.com/user/whitecollarguru. Email me at email@example.com with any questions.
Monday, March 18, 2019
WHEN FRIENDS BECOME ENEMIES AND SECRETS ARE REVEALED
Getting implicated in a crime comes with many challenges. There are financial challenges, social challenges, and of course familial challenges. Luckily, most of those who face these challenges are fortunate enough to have family and friends to support them and to lift them up while the horizon is bleak. These relationships are critical to the mental survival of someone going through any one of life's challenges and especially one where his freedom is on the line.
At the same time there are few things more aggravating than finding out that someone who was thought to be a friend was merely an opportunistic parasite trying to capitalize on another's success. There are few things as demoralizing than realizing that someone who was supposed to be part of a support system is suddenly absent. There is nothing worse than the feeling of having been used. There is no greater snake than a former friend or partner who is willing to "cooperate" with prosecutors by falsely implicating a former friend and partner in order to cleanse their own conscience from their own improper actions. Even after the case is over, the person implicated and possibly convicted of the crime will try and convince himself that this person or these people are still his friends. Eventually, however, it will become clear to him that this former friend was never anything of the kind. It may take one, two or even three years but eventually there will be some triggering event that brings the truth to the forefront. And that is when it is time to get even.
The first way to get even is by not getting screwed again. Most people who were successful will find a way to re-establish themselves. Once again, this former friend will try and use him to get ahead. It could be something as simple as a client referral from a new employer or for a client referral. The idea is not to fall victim to their deceptions once again. Not only should the person implicated avoid doing business with his former partner(s), but he should make sure no one he works with does so either. This former partner is a bad character, is a snake, and there is no way a former felon should allow his new life and his new associates to be victimized by this person or persons.
And then there are the secrets. The good news for anyone who has been used by one of these types of "friends" is that during this so-called friendship, plenty of information was shared that this former friend would never want revealed. Ample texts would likely have been exchanged. More than a few secrets would have been told. In other words, if someone is going to run for the hills when a friend and partner is implicated, he and/or she better be sure that there is nothing that can come out later that would embarrass them in front of former and current clients as well as their friends. When the person implicated is extricated from the situation either by serving a prison sentence or by getting the charges dropped, he will likely be very eager to do whatever necessary to remind this former friend, partner and colleague that he and/or she should have been a little more careful when running for the hills. In other words, payback's a bitch.
Now let’s say for example I had partner(s) like this. One would be surprised the type of secrets someone reveals when they are trying to pretend to be a friend. Marital indiscretions are one thing that can often come up. Now this may not be an actual admission of cheating, but it could very well be an episode that happened long ago that this person may not want revealed to his or her significant other, much less their social circle or the public at large. It may be something that happened recently that spouses do not want their life-partners to know about. This is the type of information that that the person who is embroiled in a criminal probe will be all too happy to reveal when everything concludes.
Of course, there is also the conduct of that person or persons while they were in a business with the person who finds himself involved on the criminal probe. The irony is that the person under indictment may have had pure intentions or may have had no idea what he was doing was actually illegal. Alternatively, what he did was not actually illegal even if he pleaded guilty to it in order to spare his family the agony of a trial and the risk of a long sentence with an adverse verdict. The "friend"/ partner, on the other hand was motivated purely by greed. He and/or she wanted in only to take advantage of a friend's new-found luck. As such the actions he/she took may have been deliberately conceived to get rich at the expense of their own contacts and clients using a web of deception. In other words, the "friend(s)" may have committed actual crimes while the person under investigation was innocent all along.
Of course, if anything was actually sent over an email, one would assume that all of this would have been handled over to the prosecutors so that this friend's misdeeds would have come to attention to those investigating any alleged crimes. That is both true and untrue. Firstly, a prosecutor needs to decide who to prosecute. Perception might be that these other ancillary members are just not important enough. Secondly, prosecutors may not fully understand the context of the emails and since the person under investigation is not about to throw his friend(s) under the bus, there is simply not a witness to corroborate the information contained in the emails. Third, the prosecutors may feel that these other people are more useful to provide information than they are being indicted and they simply decide to use them to try and get who they view as the big fish.
Then, of course there is the ultimate wild card, and that relates to information never seen by prosecutors. Prosecutors have the right to subpoena all records that they feel are related to a crime. At the same time, defendants have a fifth amendment right not to self-incriminate. That line gets murky when it comes to email and even more murky when it comes to text messages, Blackberry messages, i-messages and even WhatsApp messages from a personal phone. Lawyers will generally agree that a corporate email account has to be turned over to the prosecutors, but that's it. Imagine if you will that text messages and Blackberry messages were never turned over to federal prosecutors. Imagine if you will that those messages contained statements from a former partner/friend that said something like "there is no way Henry will find out about these fees, right?" Or, " I don't even like this person, but he has enough money to invest". A text may say "I don't even want him as a client, but I need to be nice to him so that he keeps investing," or "Can we charge him double fees for being a pain in the ass?" While these are all troubling and may even be incriminating to the person who sent them none is worse than "I don't want them to know that I am making money off this". Of course, many secrets that a spouse would not his or her significant other to know about would also likely be contained in these text messages.
As it turns out, none of these texts, messages would have been seen by federal prosecutors since a defendant will generally assert the fifth amendment privilege whenever possible, even if there is information contained in those texts that is exculpatory since there may be other text messages that, when taken out of context, will not help a defendant. Of course, once the case is over either via acquittal or completion of a prison term, all bets are off. The person implicated now has no incentive to keep this information private. They can be used in a book (hint, hint), simply placed on the internet or even emailed in their entirety to the clients this former friend and partner deceived. I imagine that these clients or even partners would not be too happy. Nor would the employers or even state regulatory agencies that oversee the employment of such individual(s), especially if it violated state regulatory laws such as finance, real estate, insurance, law, mortgages, lobbying, agriculture, accounting, etc. It is possible that this former friend and partner would be prohibited by state law from continuing to work in his and/or her chose profession. It is possible that the information, once revealed, would destroy a marriage.
There are some who would assert that the person who was implicated in the crime feel bad for releasing this information; for possibly ruining someone's life. Well, that argument rings hollow to someone who has gone through the criminal justice system. He may have been separated from his family by going to prison, had his career destroyed, had a strain put on his family life or at the very least had to spend a fortune on legal fees. There is not going to be any sympathy on his part for any suffering endured by those who took advantage of and then abandoned him. No, this is exactly what he and/or she deserves. None of the suffering that they may or may not endure will even come close to that endured by the defendant himself.
The message for the former felon is to remember that there will be a time for the truth to come out. Those who turn on you will ultimately come face to face with their misdeeds. They will know, their clients will know, their friends will know, and the entire community will know. If they are upstanding members of their communities on boards of schools, charities, and religious organizations they will be knocked down. And for the former friends and partners I say this: Nothing stays secret forever.
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