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 Harvard Grad Should Prepare for Prison 

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Michael Santos

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Daniel Thibeault has impressive credentials. He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Dartmouth. In 2005, he graduated with an MBA from Harvard. Daniel began his career as an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Then he went to GE Equity as an associate. Eventually, he launched his own firm, GL Capital Partners, an asset management company that offered high returns to investors. Daniel’s charmed life took a diversion a couple of weeks ago when FBI agents visited him.

The FBI agents purposely arrested Daniel in the evening. They read Daniel his Miranda rights, assuring him that anything he said would be used against him in a court of law. Then they locked him in handcuffs and drove him to a detention center. The agent’s calculated decision to arrest him after business hours meant that judges would have gone home for the night. Since a judge wasn’t available at that hour to set bail, Daniel slept in a prison cell. Without a doubt, December 11 would have been one of the most difficult nights of his life.

He needs to find his footing now.

Two weeks have passed since Daniel’s arrest. By now he has likely hired a defense attorney to represent him. The defense attorney will embark upon a strategy to gather a more complete understanding of the case against Daniel. Together they will contemplate a strategy on how Daniel should respond to charges for securities fraud. The choices he makes, of course, will have an enormous influence on the rest of his life.

Charges of securities fraud carry a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. If convicted, the dollar amount involved in the scheme will play a role in determining the length of time that Daniel serves. But the decisions he makes during the weeks, months, and years ahead will have far more lasting influences. Few white-collar defendants understand that reality until it is too late.

No one should underestimate the value that a defense attorney provides at the earliest stages of a criminal charge for white-collar crime. Yet white-collar defendants like Daniel Thibeault should think beyond judicial proceedings. The fact that he has been charged with a felony will have enormous implications on the rest of his career. His name is now associated with fraud in an easily searchable database.

Unfortunately, for the rest of Daniel’s life, the fraud charges will trump the Ivy League degrees he has earned unless he takes action now. In addition to thinking about how he will work with his attorney to respond to the criminal charges, Daniel should begin thinking about all of the ancillary consequences that accompany charges for securities fraud. He should prepare for the worst.

What does preparing for the worst mean?

Preparation means contemplating a strategy for sentence mitigation. It means thinking about restoring credentials that will help launch a new career. It means that a white-collar defendant should educate himself to understand how the prison system works so that he can position himself to serve the least amount of time in the easiest prison possible.

Just like Daniel needed to prepare for his vision of being admitted into Dartmouth or Harvard, he should take proactive steps now to ensure that he receives the best possible outcome from this unfortunate predicament that he now faces. That means not only preparing for how he will respond to the criminal charges, but also preparing for the possibility of prison, and preparing for deliberate strategies that will ensure he emerges from the prison experience successfully.

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