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 Sentence Mitigation Story: Branden Coluccio 

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Michael Santos

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In the fall of 2019, authorities let Branden know that a government investigation into a company he cofounded would likely lead to criminal charges. The charges made him feel indignant. From his perspective, he did not have knowledge that his cofounders had initiated policies that violated the law.

The charges he faced, however, were related to fraud. Federal guidelines would influence the potential sentence. In cases of fraud, probation officers, prosecutors, and judges will consider the amount of loss. Branden’s mitigation strategy began early. Authorities threatened to bring charges that could result in a 20-year sentence. Through his work, a judge sentenced Branden to 37 months. Then, eleven months after he surrendered to federal prison, he transitioned to home confinement. Learn from his story.

Loss Amount

Loss does not always translate into the amount of money a defendant receives. In fact, a defendant may not receive any money. But if prosecutors allege that a victim could have been exposed to losses, the sentence should reflect those potential losses.

Branden’s business had billings in the tens of millions of dollars. Prosecutors were alleging that some of those billings were fraudulent. The high dollar amounts exposed Branden to more than a decade in prison. Despite Branden’s position that he did not participate in billing decisions, or the policies that led to those billings, the charges prosecutors brought would expose him to severe sanction.

Rather than complain about the injustice of the system, Branden began working on a mitigation strategy. His strategy was comprehensive. As a result, he influenced his probation officer and he influenced his prosecutor. And he influenced his judge. Instead of serving multiple decades in prison, in the summer of 2020, he surrendered to prison to begin serving a better sentence. The judge imposed a prison term of approximately three years.

As a result of the mitigation efforts that Branden made, he anticipates serving less than half that time in prison. He will serve the remainder of his sentence on home confinement—continuing with his mitigation efforts.

Mitigation Steps

What mitigation steps can you take to prepare for a better outcome?

If you’re facing a charge, you should begin by asking such a question. It doesn’t really matter the nature of the charge. Some people face white-collar crime charges like Branden, others face charges for drugs, others face charges for different types of offenses. Even a driving offense can lead to a lengthy sanction.

The truth is that any type of charge that leads to the possibility of a sentencing hearing requires action. A person has to make choices. Those choices can have a massive influence on a person’s life.

Earlier this morning, for example, I received a question from a mother. Here is what she wrote:

Hi Michael my son is debating whether or not he should go through with the safety valve and he is unsure that the information he would give would be sufficient enough to reduce his sentence He is also afraid for his personal safety by having a snitch card on his paperwork (5c1.2 safety valve) would that show up on his paper and would other inmates know because they would ask him to check his paperwork to check him out can other inmates find out?

Mother of a person facing a charge

The safety value is a sentencing mechanism that prosecutors have the discretion to use when they want to allow judges to go below mandatory-minimum sentencing laws. Her son is about to make a decision that could influence the rest of his life.

Below is the response that I sent to her:

Hi (mother’s name):

I hope you’ve been watching our YouTube channel. I provide a lot of information there that may be of value to your son. My thoughts are pretty simple. 

I made bad decisions at the start of my journey. I went to trial. As a result of the choices I made, I served 26 years in prison. If I would have made different decisions, I would not have served that long of a sentence in prison.

Your son has to make decisions. The values he lives by should inform those decisions:

  • Does he value liberty, or does he value what other people think about him?
  • Does he want to be viewed as someone that is true to the criminal code, or does he want to start moving in a different direction?
  • Does he want to come home sooner, or does he prefer to stay in prison longer?

No one can answer those questions for him. He has to ask the questions and answer the questions. His responses to those questions should help him make a more informed decision.

We all wish we could have made different decisions in our past. Those decisions would lead us in one direction or another direction. Your son’s responses to those questions should guide his decision.

There is a possibility that people in jail or prison will learn about his decision, and there is a possibility that they may not. The friends your son chooses in jail or prison may have an influence on whether anyone finds out. If he hangs around people from a criminal element, they will likely find out. If he chooses to find friends that want to do better, they won’t care so much.

I hope your son makes the right decision. The right decision for him may be the wrong decision for someone else.

I encourage you to get him the books I wrote. Those books and courses will both teach and inspire him.

Best,

Michael

We don’t know where you are at this stage in the journey. But if you’re facing a charge that could lead to a sentencing hearing, we highly encourage you to think about sentence mitigation. Since some people do not have the resources to hire a sentence-mitigation expert, we created a series of resources to help.

The free resources include articles like this and our YouTube channel. The low-cost resources include our books.

For less than $300, a person could work through our sentence-prep course.

Each person must decide what is best for him. For those who want to learn more about self-directed sentence-mitigation programs, click the buttons below.

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