U.S. Congressman Michael Grimm is going to prison. What steps should a high-profile professional take to prepare?
During the 26 years that I served in federal prison, I befriended many individuals who formerly led lives as distinguished, business leaders, or professionals. Without exception, they initially hired high-profile defense attorneys to fight for their liberty. Events turned against them. Either by jury finding or plea, a verdict of guilt followed.
Regardless of what success an individual had in the professional world, once the finders of fact determine that an individual is guilty of a felony in federal court, certain proceedings follow. Those events include a Presentence Investigation (PSI). Then the defendant will advance through a sentencing hearing. After the judge imposes sentence, the judge will issue a Judgment and Commitment order (J&C). The US Marshals will forward that J&C to administrators in the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).
A team of BOP bureaucrats from an offsite location in Grand Prairie, Texas will review the J&C together with the PSI. Rather than identifying the individual as a “defendant,” the BOP will label him an “inmate.” Administrators who do not know anything other than what is in the PSI and the J&C will determine the inmate’s security and custody needs. In other words, those administrators will read lines on a page and make a decision on whether to send the inmate to a minimum-security camp, a correctional institution, or a high-security penitentiary. The decision that those administrators make will have enormous implications on the individual and his family members.
Without a doubt, Congressman Grimm has followed in the same footsteps as other high profile individuals I met who were targeted for a criminal prosecution. I’m certain he has lost sleep and felt enormous anxiety. He likely retained a high-profile defense attorney who is advising him on how to navigate the challenges that will accompany his tax evasion charges. Business Insider reported that the Republican legislator hid more than $1 million in earnings from his partial ownership interest in a restaurant. According to the article, allegations also surfaced about his hiring undocumented immigrants.
Now that he is pleading guilty, prison is certain to follow. As a former FBI agent and Republican Congressman, Mr. Grimm should invest some time, energy, and resources to learn more about challenges he will face as an inmate in the Bureau of Prisons. The sooner he learns about the challenges ahead, the sooner Congressman Grimm can begin taking affirmative steps to prepare. Decisions he makes today can influence the outcome of his PSI. Proper preparation for the PSI can influence the sentence he receives, his potential release, and his time inside the BOP. That sentencing hearing will determine the outcome of his J&C. The PSI, sentence, and J&C together will influence how administrators will score the inmate with regard to custody and classification. All of that information together will have enormous implications for the remainder of the defendant’s life.
My experience of working with high-profile defendants has led me to launch Prison Professor.com. I’ve worked with high profile defendants like Greg Reyes, former CEO and Chairman of Brocade Communication Systems, Andris Pukke, former CEO and Chairman of Ameridebt, and Bob Brennan, former CEO and chairman of First Jersey Securities. Without a doubt, each of those individuals derived enormous value from lessons I offered on overcoming challenges that accompanied a criminal prosecution.
Defense attorneys provide enormous value through the guilt or innocence phase of proceedings. But when it comes to preparing for the challenges that follow, no one has a greater depth and breadth of experience than the team I’m putting together at PrisonProfessor.com