- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
any similarity to actual events is merely coincidental
Once upon a time in a city in South Florida there was a lawyer. This lawyer’s name was Bull Schitter. Bull Schitter was not a very smart lawyer. Even by the low standards of how many judge lawyers, Bull Schitter was very unethical and had no morals whatsoever. What Bull Schitter lacked in intelligence and in ethics, however, he made up for in his ability the cultivate valuable political relationships. He even managed to partner with a somewhat reputable lawyer who took pity on Bull Schitter and gave him a job. At one point, in spite of his inability to count to 100, Bull Schitter even managed to supervise a recount of a disputed government election. Such was the ability of Bull Schitter to insert himself into chaos and capitalize financially.
Lucky for Bull Schitter his partner passed on and he became the senior partner at his law firm. Bull Schitter managed to become a power broker in his sleepy South Florida city. To say the power corrupts is an understatement when looking at Bull Schitter. Bull Schitter knew that the only way for him to get the word out that he was a force to be reckoned with was to utilize the power of the press. For that, Bull Schitter needed an ally at a local newspaper. Lucky for Bull Schitter he found such an ally in Bethany. Even though Bull Schitter was married, in his view that was merely a minor inconvenience when it came to his desire to advance his career. His ally was married as well, to a grotesque looking fellow who was also a journalist. The grotesque fellow, who we will call Norm, was relegated to working for a blog dedicated to covering stories not good enough for even a tabloid. When it came to Norm, he had a face that was not even good enough for radio. Bull Schitter knew that Bethany could not possibly be satisfied with Norm, so Bull Schitter lured her into an extramarital affair and used her to perpetuate his name.
Sometime around 2010 a fraud of epic proportions was uncovered in the sleepy South Florida town. There were millions if not billions of dollars at stake. Bull Schitter, sensing opportunity immediately endeavored to portray himself as the savior for these victims. However, Bull Schitter had absolutely no skills or knowledge about the inner workings of the fraud, so he had to resort to his typical unethical standards. Bull Schitter attempted to contact as many people who were somehow tied to the fraud in order to gain as much knowledge as possible under the pretext that he would represent anyone he spoke to. He would inform prospective clients that anything said would fall under the attorney client privilege which was of course a meaningless phrase to Bull Schitter. Only after would he decide if he wanted to actually represent that supposed client. In one case he even decided to sue one of the clients he had attempted to recruit while accumulating information by using the very information obtained while attempting to recruit that client. When that client went to court to prevent that lawsuit from going forward, Bull Schitter arranged for the case to be heard by a judge for whom Bull Schitter was head of his election committee. The former client had no chance.
The other problem that Bull Schitter faced was money. Fighting a case like this was going to cost a lot of money, money that Bull Schitter did not have. Luckily for Bull Schitter he had signed up a client who was willing to loan him the money he needed to take the case to court. What is important to understand is that lawyers like Bull Schitter can make money by either taking a portion, usually a third, of the money they win for their clients, or they charge hourly as other lawyers do. This client, we will call him Todd Coleman was a victim who wanted to pay Bull Schitter an hourly rate. Bull Schitter was also representing many other clients who were paying Bull Schitter a third of their winnings. All told, Bull Schitter was representing a group of people with claims in excess of $200 million. Even if Todd Coleman was half of that, Bull Schitter stood to make one third of $100 million, plus the hourly fees he was getting paid by Todd Coleman. Best of all, Todd Coleman was footing the bill for the cost of the lawsuit!
Bull Schitter had to get his story out to get the defendants in the case to settle with him to avoid the risk (to him) of going to trial. Todd Coleman would not be happy and Bull Schitter not get any money from the other clients. Bull Schitter had by now accumulated a lot of dirt and a lot of information that could be taken out of context. His love interest, Bethany, was not able to publish the dirt since it was beneath the standards of her newspaper. Fortunately, and unfortunately for Bull Schitter, Bethany’s husband Norm, the grotesque fellow who wrote a blog, recently discovered their affair and threatened to expose it. This, in and of itself would have been a scandal in the sleepy South Florida city. Bull Schitter had an idea. Norm had not had a real story in ages. Bull Schitter told Norm that he would let Norm print the dirt before anyone else got to see the “information”. Bull Schitter also agreed to allow his private investigator that Todd Coleman was funding work for Norm free of charge. All of this was of course contingent on Norm keeping the affair between his wife Bethany and Bull Schitter a secret. Norm agreed.
One of the main defendants in the case was a company called TaDA Financial. TaDa was the deepest pocket here and Bull Schitter needed to settle with them to get paid. TaDa was also being sued by a bunch of lawyers who were handling the company that was left over in the aftermath of the fraud. Bull Schitter knew that if TaDa settled with the other lawyers first, that it would prevent him from suing TaDa. As a result, Bull Schitter acted against the best wishes of his clients and settled with TaDa. Bull Schitter pocketed fees in the neighborhood of $50 million. This represented the portion of the amount that his investors recovered. The investors also had to pay for their share of expenses incurred by Bull Schitter. Months later, those victims who did not sign up with Bull Schitter also settled with TaDa. That money was meant to make all of the victims whole. There were victims who signed on with Bull Schitter and there were others who simply left it to the lawyers who were suing on behalf of what was left of the business after the fraud. Seemingly, victims represented by Bull Schitter as well as those not represented by Bull Schitter were represented by the lawyers from the company. However, those not represented by Bull Schitter actually came out better than those represented by Bull Schitter. The reason was that if a victim recovered $100, Bull Schitter took $33 of it. The victim who was covered by the lawsuit on behalf of the surviving company did not have to pay that fee. In essence the only person who benefited when Bull Schitter filed a lawsuit was Bull Schitter. Considering that Bull Schitter, as we know, has no integrity even for a lawyer, this is not surprising.
As mentioned above, Bull Schitter made a lot of money for Bull Schitter when he settled with TaDa Financial. Bull Schitter still had one problem. Todd Coleman had lent him close to $20 million to fund the lawsuit and had not yet been paid back. For a person like Bull Schitter, who even by lawyer standards does not have any integrity, there was no problem in not paying back Todd Coleman. Todd Coleman sued Bull Schitter and a judgement was granted in favor of Todd Coleman. The problem was that Bull Schitter did not have the money to pay Todd Coleman. As a result, Todd Coleman asked for permission to take over the law firm that Bull Schitter owned. Ultimately, Bull Schitter agreed to pay back Todd Coleman over time.
While Bull Schitter was dealing with Todd Coleman things were going very bad for him in a state nor far from him sleepy South Florida city. Bull Schitter was involved in a case where his firm stands accused of bribing witnesses! An appeals court ruled that these payments were not considered privileged because they were perpetuating a fraud! It is possible that Bull Schitter is going to go to jail now, since as the managing partner of his law firm, Bull Schitter must have known about these illegal payments.
He is also being sued for malpractice by former clients. His clients allege that since he was so focused on dealing with his self-inflicted legal troubles, he was unable to give them adequate representation, as if ever was able to do so in the first place! They are suing him for over $10 million.
On the financial front, life keeps getting worse for Bull Schitter. Through all of the fees he has made off victimizing his clients Bull Schitter had put together a decent sized real estate portfolio. He had bought his office building, some surrounding land and some warehouses as well. He had also bought himself a nice house in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the sleepy South Florida city. Bull Schitter was seemingly on top of the world and the self-appointed king of the sleepy South Florida city.
One thing about life is that what goes around comes around. Bull Schitter has no money to pay his debts. Suddenly, all of his properties that he worked so hard to accumulate are saddled with debt and are for sale. His old office building is vacant. He spends his days deluding himself that he is still a power broker in the sleepy South Florida city while everyone now knows him for the fraud he has always been. Even his house, his lovely house, was recently saddled with a $5 million mortgage; a mortgage that he cannot pay. His house is now for sale and once it is sold, the culmination of the downfall of Bull Schitter will be complete. Well it will almost be complete. Indictment, conviction and prison await him in a state not fat from the sleepy South Florida city. And then, disbarment. Bull Schitter, karma is a bitch!
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
Jeff Epstein is a low life who should spend the rest of his life in prison. To be totally honest Jeff Epstein should have to have his testicles cut off with a chainsaw without the benefit of any anesthesia while all of his victims take part in the mutilation. But should Jeff Epstein be in jail now? Legally, that is.
I first learned of Jeff Epstein in 2009. As luck would have it, multiple settlements in my case were purportedly settled by Epstein. He was supposedly settling lawsuits against him by underage girls who had been his victims prior to his going to prison. Brad Edwards, who never went to prison claimed that he represented these plaintiffs. We even looked at case files. The fact that Brad Edwards was never indicted remains a mystery to this day. I have my own theory on that which I am electing to keep to myself. For now, that is.
What is noteworthy is that Jeff Epstein’s lawyers (one of who is a partner with one of my lawyers) managed to get him one of the best deals in history. It is a deal that highlights one of the many inequities in our criminal justice system. There is no one who could credibly argue that 99.9% of the population would not have received a prison term for over 20 years to be served in a less than friendly federal prison. Epstein, however served less than two years in a state prison and was eligible for work release every day! Jeff Epstein, one of the most despicable criminals and victimizers in modern history served less time than I did. Let that sink in for a moment.
How did that happen? Well the US Attorney at the time, Alex Acosta, cut Epstein a deal where he would plead guilty to a State of Florida charge. In exchange, Epstein and his co-conspirators received a pass on the federal charges. Why did they cut him this deal? I have no idea. Any way you slice it, Epstein got away with a very lenient sentence and got to keep basically all of his wealth because of who he was, who he knew and the size of his bank account. Disgusting. Only the purchase of Manhattan for $24 worth of trinkets in 1626 by Peter Minuit comes close the deal Epstein made.
Nine years later the Miami Herald woke up and decided to shine a light on Acosta, Epstein, and the case in general. A year after they published their expose, Epstein was arrested and charged in New York for what is seems are the very crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2008. This should trouble anyone who has been found not guilty at trial or who has pleaded guilty, served time and now trying to rebuild his life. This is very scary.
Last month, the Supreme Court ruled that double jeopardy, which prevents a defendant from being charged for the same crime does not apply if there are overlapping governmental jurisdictions. In other words, someone can go to trial on the federal level, be found not guilty and then the State of Florida can decide to prosecute him for the very same crime if an overzealous prosecutor decides that a State law was violated as well. This is obviously an insane ruling, but it was affirmed by the Supreme Court.
As insane as that is, however, what is even more appalling is that it now seems that a defendant can be tried for the same crime on the federal level if the indictments are issued in different districts. Jeff Epstein cut a deal in Miami in 2008 and now it seems, on the surface at least that he is being charged with the same crime in New York 10 years later. Of course, it is possible that new crimes have been committed. Realistically, this indictment represents a do-over on a deal that the feds are not happy about.
Why should this bother the white-collar defendant? One of the most common catch all while collar charges is Wire Fraud or Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud. The very definition of Wire Fraud is a transaction that crosses state lines. Many defendants accused of Wire Fraud will have alleged victims in multiple states. Someone sitting in New York may have victims who live in New Jersey, Florida or California. In all likelihood, he is going to be charged in New York. Under the new Epstein rule the case may not be over once he resolves his case in New York be it through a plea deal, an acquittal or even a guilty verdict. Imagine if the defendant in New York decided to plead guilty in order to put the case behind him. He served his time, gets released and is now ready to rebuild. Upon release, an overzealous prosecutor in Florida, where one of the alleged victims resides, now decides that he is unhappy with the deal that the New York federal prosecutors gave the defendant. They decide to now re-indict in Florida since there is a victim from that state who also made a monetary transfer based on the alleged fraud. This is very scary!
The fact that Epstein is accused of the most heinous of crimes elicits little sympathy from the public. At the same time, we cannot, and we should have different types of laws and due process for different types of crimes. The rules have to be the rules whether someone stands accused of murder or money laundering. Today the New York prosecutors are charging someone with a crime in what amounts to a do over, irrespective of the nature of the crime. Do not fool yourselves. If it turns out that there is nothing new in the Epstein indictments, while-collar defendants are going to have to start bracing for the possibility of being indicted in multiple districts for the same crime. This cannot be allowed to happen!
I want to be clear. Jeffrey Epstein should not be a free man. He is a low life. In this country if a cop does not have a search warrant, goes into a house and finds a dead body, that evidence is disallowed, and a murderer walks free. We may not like it, but these laws are in place to protect the innocent, even if it means a guilty person goes free. I believe Epstein deserves to go to jail. I believe he should be placed in the worst prison in the country. I hope his cell mates do to him what he did to those poor girls. And I hope it hurts. Badly. I just hope that the reason he goes is not because of crimes that were supposed to have been covered by a deal, even if it was a bad one. Oh, and Brad Edwards? He also belongs in jail too!
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