Justin Paperny (@justinpaperny) was a successful stockbroker who made some bad decisions and wound up serving 18 months in prison for violating securities laws. Now he helps others prepare for time behind bars and after. He’s the author of Lessons from Prison.
What We Discuss with Justin Paperny:
- What happens when white-collar criminals go to jail.
- Why otherwise good people might find themselves on the wrong end of the justice system.
- How someone prepares to do time inside a federal prison — and what they can expect once they leave.
- How easy it can be for people to rationalize criminal behavior and lose control of their moral compass.
- Why Justin counts his 18 months behind bars as one of the best experiences of his life.
- And much more…
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In the sage words of Mr. Sammy Davis, Jr., “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.” And while innocent people are sometimes wrongfully convicted and sent to prison, this wasn’t the case for Justin Paperny, author of Lessons from Prison — he did the crime, he did the time, and he survived in spite of going into it with no real concept of adversity.
In this episode we’ll talk to Justin about what led to his fall from a career as a successful stockbroker to a penitent felon who served 18 months in federal prison. Now, he’s a defense consultant who specializes in preparing white collar criminals for their own prison sentences, and he’ll share his own experiences behind bars and what sobering reality was like when he emerged from the system. Listen, learn, and enjoy!
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Justin Paperny was riding high as a successful stockbroker until, at age 32, he pled guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and securities fraud. And while “mail fraud” might sound like something clowny, Justin assures us its consequences were no laughing matter.
“I wish it was something clowny that didn’t lead to federal prison!” says Justin. “Mail fraud, essentially in my case, was I had a client when I was a stockbroker who was creating fake documents and sending them in the mail. So by placing it in the mail, putting a postal stamp on there, having it being a deceptive document, that was mail fraud.”
Now that he’s 44, does Justin look back on this time as youthful indiscretion he’d never repeat as an older, wiser, and better version of himself? To some degree. But the way he responded at the time was the result of something with which the average person might find difficult to sympathize: Like many of the white collar clients for whom he consults today, Justin was the victim of his own success.
“I was 28 when I was breaking the law,” says Justin. “And you’ll find in my case there were two Justin Papernys. There was the one who graduated USC, was very successful as a young stockbroker, raised a lot of money, did well by my clients, was professional, could close deals against five or eight other brokers and win the business. Then, when I caught my case — to use prison vernacular — I suddenly became this little boy. I had been punched in the gut or the face and I didn’t know how to respond or compute to this adversity.
“So part of the problem was I had never had any adversity or setbacks in my life. I have said I was this privileged, coddled kid who grew up in the Valley with all the breaks and doted after from my parents and my coaches and I was a baseball player. Things came easily. No setbacks in my life. So suddenly when this setback came, unlike others who might have endured some real adversity in their life and learned to overcome them, my character trait at the time was to deflect, to dodge, to lie, to pretend this wasn’t happening.
“So that’s where I was at 32, despite the success I had had, I suddenly felt like a little boy at times, wanting to run into a corner, unsure how to respond to this. And as a result of not knowing how to respond, I made matters measurably worse. I lied to my lawyers. I lied to the FBI. I delayed the healing that should have begun much sooner. So I don’t know if there’s any time to go to prison — whether it’s 28, 32, or 92 — but the reality was, as a result of my upbringing and my success that I had had, I was unprepared to respond to these setbacks. It’s not unlike many of the clients with whom we work who have had nothing but success.”
Listen to this episode in its entirety to learn more about how Justin got through 18 months of federal prison in spite of having no template to prepare him ahead of time, what life was like for him once his time was served and he was free to return to life on the outside, how he helps others in similar situations prepare for their own time behind bars, what life is really like on the inside, and much more.
THANKS, JUSTIN PAPERNY!
If you enjoyed this session with Justin Paperny, let him know by clicking on the link below and sending him a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Lessons from Prison by Justin M. Paperny (Free Ebook)
- White Collar Advice
- Prison Professors
- Justin Paperny’s Website
- Justin Paperny at Twitter
- Justin Paperny Spent Time Behind Bars. He’s Got Tough-Love Advice for Suspects in the College Admissions Scandal, CNN
- The Data Is In. Frogs Don’t Boil. But We Might. The Washington Post
- Beyond Scared Straight, A&E
- Shon Hopwood: From Bank Robber To Law Professor, LAI Speakers
- The Fraud Triangle, Association of Certified Fraud Examiners
- The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
- Robert Greene | What You Need to Know about the Laws of Human Nature, TJHS 117
- Napoleon and Machiavelli: Two Essays in Political Science by Frank Preston Stearns
- The Darker Side of how P.T. Barnum Became “The Greatest Showman” The Vintage News
- 10 Signs You’re a People-Pleaser, Psychology Today
- From White-Collar Crime to Red-Collar Crime by Richard G. Brody and Kent A. Kiehl, Journal of Financial Crime
- Mark Manson | Channeling Hope, Choosing Problems, and Changing Values, TJHS 198
- What I Learned Spending the Day in a Maximum-Security Prison by Jordan Harbinger
- 8 Mile
- Inside: Life Behind Bars in America by Michael G. Santos
- The Opposite, Seinfeld
- Matt McCarthy | The Race to Stop a Superbug Epidemic, TJHS 222
- Prison Is the Key to Felicity Huffman’s Future. Just Ask Martha Stewart. Daily Beast
- Bernard Madoff Fast Facts, CNN
Transcript for Justin Paperny | Lessons From Prison (Episode 226)
Jordan Harbinger: [00:00:03] Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. As always, I'm here with producer Jason DeFillippo. What happens when white collar criminals go to jail? What's going to happen to these famous faces wrapped up in the college admission scandal? Today, we'll hear from my friend Justin Paperny. He's a white collar criminal defense consultant who specializes in preparing white collar criminals for their prison sentences and his advice is based on his own experience in prison, which we'll hear about today. Not only will we learn about what it's like inside and how to prepare oneself to do time, but we'll also learn about the reasons otherwise good people might find themselves on the wrong end of the justice system. What was frightening to me was just how easy it can be for people to rationalize behavior and lose control of their moral compass. Justin gives us some keen insight into his own process and that of his clients. Last but not least, we'll hear about why the prison was actually one of the best experiences of Justin's entire life.
[00:00:56] If you want to know how we managed to get stories like this, well we've got a huge network and people send them to us. So, check out our Six-Minute Networking course, which is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. And by the way, most of the guests on the show actually subscribed to the course on the newsletter. So come join us and you'll be in great company. All right, here's Justin Paperny.
[00:01:16] So to clarify for people that are wondering what the hell we're even talking about in the first place. So you are a stockbroker at Bear Stearns and UBS, and then at age 32 --and we'll get into some of the details on this as well-- ended up pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud, mail fraud, and securities fraud. Mail fraud sounds like a clowny thing that doesn't mean—It sounds like something to do with letters, but it's more complicated.
Justin Paperny: [00:01:42] I wish it was something clowny that didn't lead to federal prison. Mail fraud, essentially in my case, I had a client, my client while I was a stockbroker, who was creating fake documents and sending them in the mail. So by placing it in the mail, putting a postal stamp on there, having it be a deceptive document, that was mail fraud.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:03] It's one of those crimes that seem like they go, “All right, this is bad, but, it's so complicated to prove a lot of these other things that we're going to throw that in there. It's like tax evasion where they get Al Capone on that because they're like, “Ah, it's going to be a mess to unravel everything,” but we do know you have some money and you didn't pay taxes on it, so let's go for that.
Justin Paperny: [00:02:20] That's oftentimes a lot of my clients in white-collar cases where it's unclear what they may plead guilty to. They plead guilty to conspiracy to commit securities, fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy to do something. You'll find so many cases it's easier to tie them into a conspiracy. Then figuring out specifically what statute or violation they may have made.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:39] Yeah, I can understand why it's tempting, especially for a prosecutor to go invest two million dollars figuring out the details or we're done right now and we just say, “You plead guilty to various conspiracy.”
Justin Paperny: [00:02:49] That's right. That's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:02:50] At age 32 though is when this happened. And for me at age 39 I think back to when I was 32 and I go, “Okay, I might have been a late bloomer, but I was basically a kid.” And so now you're in your forties. You're in your forties, right?
Justin Paperny: [00:03:03] 44.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:04] Yeah. So when you look back at age 32 do you think that was a dumb kid era or were you—Not in that you're not responsible for it, but do you look back and go, “What the hell was I thinking?” And also because 32 seems very young to go to grownup jail.
Justin Paperny: [00:03:21] I was 28 when I was breaking the law. And you'll find in my case there were like two Justin Papernys. There was the one who graduated USC, was very successful as a young stockbroker, raised a lot of money, did well by my clients, was professional, could close deals against five or eight other brokers and win the business. So I had that professional edge to me. Then when I caught my case to use since some prison vernacular—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:03:45] Yes, I was going to say.
Justin Paperny: [00:03:48] When I caught the case, I suddenly became like this little boy, I had been punched in the gut or the face and I didn't know how to respond or compute to this adversity. Part of the problem was I had never had any adversity or setbacks in my life. I have said I was this privileged, coddled kid who grew up in the Valley with all the breaks and doted after from my parents and my coaches, and I was a baseball player. Things came easily. No setbacks in my life. So suddenly when this setback came --unlike others who might have been endured some real adversity in their lives and learn to overcome them-- my character trait at the time was to deflect, to dodge, to lie, to pretend this wasn't happening. So that's where I was at 32, despite the success I had had, I suddenly felt like a little boy at times, wanting to cry and to run into a little corner, unsure how to respond to this. And as a result of not knowing how to respond, I made matters measurably worse. I lied to my lawyers. I lied to the FBI. I delayed the healing that should have begun much sooner. So I don't know if there's any time to go to prison --whether it's 28, 32, or 92 but the reality was, as a result of my upbringing and success that I had had, I was unprepared to respond to these setbacks. it's not unlike many of the clients with whom we work who have had nothing but success.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:06] Yeah, it was going to say, it does sort of remind me a little bit of, of some of the privileged and wealthy clients that you're working with now. Are we allowed to talk about what some of those people are involved in right now? I know you can't mention names obviously.
Justin Paperny: [00:05:21] We can and absolutely should talk about, I won't mention. We have many clients in the Varsity Blues case who our clients. Evidence I have shown but—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:28] Aka the college admissions scandal for people who don't know the code name.
Justin Paperny: [00:05:32] I'm so into it. I should be able to be, yes. Yeah, we can certainly talk about it as I have a number of thoughts on that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:38] Okay. So yeah, what you had done was essentially that creating those documents with your boss, and it must be tough to think about some of this cause one, in one case it was a 90-year-old rabbi that lost more than three million dollars.
Justin Paperny: [00:05:52] That's going to sound horrific.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:05:53] It sounds so bad.
Justin Paperny: [00:05:54] It sounds really bad and somebody my children are going to watch this and think “Good Lord, why does dad talk about this?” Let me clarify the situation.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:06:00] Yeah, sure.
Justin Paperny: [00:06:02] So essentially what I did, or as Judge Wilson said in my sentencing here in here in Los Angeles, he said, “I'm tired of stockbrokers turning the other way for commissions or salesman turning the other way for commissions. You turn the other way from money, you got caught and most don't get caught. I’m sending you to jail.” So here's essentially what happened. I learned that my client, who is a hedge fund manager, so at UBS or Bear Stearns, I'm executing the trades as the broker. Client calls and says, “Buy 100,000 shares of Google, sell 200,000 shares of Microsoft.” I'm executing the trades for a commission. He housed his money with us. Our client would go out and raise money. Maybe you're a client of his, you'd give them a million dollars, someone gives him a million dollars. You gave him money. He houses it with us. At UBS, we learned that he was losing money, yet he was telling people he was making money. So I attended a meeting with a 90-year-old rabbi. When I stepped into that meeting with the rabbi and my client, Keith, and I'm not excusing or justifying my actions here. When I stepped into that meeting with the rabbi and my client, Keith, the rabbi’s money had been lost for many, many years before I had ever met the rabbi. Over a period of many years, my client, Keith was sending this rabbi statements purporting to show that he had two, three, four, five million dollars.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:14] Those were fake?
Justin Paperny: [00:07:15] All of those were fake. I didn't know that at the time. Keith had just become a client, hedge fund—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:21] He also didn't say anything.
Justin Paperny: [00:07:22] That was the point! So we're at this meeting and Keith begins to tell the rabbi how well his portfolio is doing. And I'm sitting there and I say, “Wait a sec. I know he's lying to this person. This rabbi's money has been lost for years. Well, before I ever met him, what do I do? Do I say, get out of here and run your money is lost?” So instead I stayed quiet.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:07:43] The answer was yes, that's what you do, but that's not what you're doing when you're 28 years old.
Justin Paperny: [00:07:47] That's what I didn't do. I sat there. Then I contributed to the facade that his money was in good standing and the rationalization of my mind was at this rabbi whom I just met, learns that his money has been gone for years right, well before I met him. It could kill him. That's how I rationalized allowing the meeting to continue in facilitating it, but the real reality was, and part of the reason I broke the law and went to prison, I wanted the gravy train of commissions to continue. So I reasoned it in my mind that way and that's also part of the reason I was held accountable and went to prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:08:17] It seems shocking to me that a bank like UBS or any bank would not—Are there just not enough controls on this or at the time maybe there weren't enough controls in this? But I can't really speak to it now and we probably shouldn't because it's a little irresponsible for us to get certain guests what they have in place—but it seems like your boss was clearly doing something wrong. How was there not like, well, I guess you just can't audit everything going on, I think institutionally.
Justin Paperny: [00:08:41] So what happened, the values are arbitrary. What's valuable for me may be different for you. So a compliance manager to UBS or any investment bank, that compliance manager should have different values than a broker looking to raise money. The values for compliance managers should be to police the brokers to rein them in. The value for the brokers is production and growing their assets. You'll find that some of these compliance managers can be corrupted and they can be persuaded to turn the other way when they see some conduct that isn't becoming of a broker. So you'll find compliance and a lot of these firms is solid, but you have human beings working there and they can easily be, as I said exploited and corrupted. And because of that, they may turn the other way from conduct and it was wrong.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:20] Yeah, oh man. So you got out of prison, you’re 34, at that point you're a convicted felon and the economy in 2009, when you got into prison, was in shambles, right?
Justin Paperny: [00:09:30] Yes. I used to write letters from prison telling people that I've chosen to sit out this recession.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:35] Yeah, good call. I think I'm taking18 months off to go.
Justin Paperny: [00:09:40] I got to take a little break here. I'm going to get it together, use this as a little sabbatical to prepare for what's coming next. Thank you. I look forward to seeing you in our next visit.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:09:48] Yeah, yeah. How did you then get into the business of becoming a white collar—Well, tell me what your business really is? Are you a prison consultant? Is that kind of a fair label?
Justin Paperny: [00:10:01] We’re prison consultants and business advisors. So before I went to prison, I did everything horrifically. Lawyers exploited me. I wrote a check. I didn't work openly with them. I lied to the FBI. I ate poorly. I drank, I was up all night. I just—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:10:15] Standard Wall Street finance—
Justin Paperny: [00:10:18] I was in a relationship. I never wanted to have sex. I would play it, stay up all night, playing online chess. I was depressed. I was miserable. Like my character at the time was to not know how to respond to the bad choices that I had created. So I was a damn wreck for three and a half years before I went to jail. So finally then I get to jail or prison and I began like meeting guys and they're like, “I was miserable and depressed and my wife hates me and my kids don't want to visit and I lost all my money and I lost my career.” And I'm like, “Hey, I'm just like you but we're in prison. Let's go for a walk around the track and talk.” So I began to interview so many of these men who have the same experiences as me. They regretted how they prepared for prison and they got longer prison terms as a result and we live without dignity in the process. So I sensed an opportunity. So let's ensure that no one else has to go through this. I know there's very little forgiveness that comes for the white collar defender. There's a sense of otherness that comes our way. It's not like cancer. If someone, somebody doesn't choose cancer, of course, there's going to be empathy for them. There isn't a great deal of empathy at times for white collar defendants because we chose to break the law even within my own family at times there wasn't the sympathy that you would hope. It's like I made a mistake.
[00:11:19] So in prison, learning from others, I wanted to document how others going through the system could prepare better. So I began writing a daily blog every single day documenting my experience through federal prison, sharing lessons I learned. And the blog was a harbinger for my first book, Lessons From Prison, which chronicles not just my journey but what I learned traversing the criminal justice system. How good people who made out of character choices can emerge successfully? But I also cover, and this is something we cover extensively in our work, the hardest part isn't prison. It's frankly the easiest part.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:51] Going to prison is the easiest part.
Justin Paperny: [00:11:53] It's the best part. It’s the easiest part. It's coming home, starting over.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:11:57] Yeah. Well, I want to get into that in a second. I think it is an interesting point you just made about how there's not a whole lot of sympathy for the white collar defendant. Because if you look at somebody who robbed a liquor store, provided they didn't kill someone innocent, you go, wow, this person must've had desperate times. You're not, you don't justify it anything. This person belongs in jail. They are violent criminals. But you also go, man, what drove them to do that? But with a white collar defendant, you kind of assume you know what drove them to do it, which is your Grady Dick. You know, that's like the sort of blanket you don't go, “Oh man. What prompted this lawyer who worked on Wall Street to embezzle money from his clients out of a trust fund?” And you go, “He wanted a freaking boat. That's why.”
Justin Paperny: [00:12:37] And the irony is that it really starts subtly. So no white-colored prisoner wakes up, very few I should say wakes up and says, “Today feels like the day I'm going to ruin my reputation, create victims, destroy my career, embarrass my family, lose my licenses! Today, it feels like the day I'm going to flush my life down the toilet, not tomorrow. Today is that day.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:12:57] Feeling motivated.
Justin Paperny: [00:12:57] I'm feeling motivated to ruin everything I've worked decades for. It doesn't work that way. It's a period of bad decisions over a period of time rationalizing that conduct, perhaps working in an aggressive corporate culture that encourages some short-taking. Sometimes in groupthink and others are doing it, you tend to make the worst decisions. And over a period of time, you become corrupted. You get away from values that once guided you and boom—You're embezzling money from a client's trust fund.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:13:23] I can see that it's the boy, the boiling frog analogy, which is a false analogy because it's not really what frogs do. They jumped right out. But in theory, it's a good analogy for you're there, and of course, if I were in your shoes back then, I know that if I go, “Hey, so I know that we're doing this and you're sort of making these different documents, like what happens if we get caught?” They don't go, “Oh, we're screwed. If we get caught, we're going to prison.” They go, “Well, you hire a lawyer, you plead it out. You don't have to pay some restitution. Yeah, you'll have to find a different job, but, it'll be fine.” Nobody goes, “We’re totally screwed!”
Justin Paperny: [00:14:00] This is what happened at the time. What happens in other cases, we say, “If we don't do this, this is going to come undone. I need more time to make the money back. So we use this doctored evidence as a means to our end. We need more time for the market to turn and therefore we're going to make all the money back that we lost and our investors are going to love us again. So we just rationalize and find creative ways to allow the fraud to continue.” And it helps us sleep at night and we tend to focus on the good things we do rather than breaking the law. If you're sociopathic, you may not care at all, but if you have a conscience, you're going to want to focus on the good things. If not, you won't be able to function.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:14:34] Yeah. It seems like the majority of these white collar criminals that you read about, or that maybe the ones that you represent, they're not these sorts of sociopathic people that are going out making a bunch of money and robbing people and not giving a crap. They're rationalizing the behavior the whole time.
Justin Paperny: [00:14:51] The majority of my clients didn't wake up in the intentions to defraud or break the law. It's, I traveled the country lecturing on ethics and white collar crime to the best corporations and universities in America, and I share how none of my clients have those in intentions. I also remind them that none of my clients ever imagined they'd be immersed in the criminal justice system. So for that reason, some of these business students at the time, I can tell they're totally tuned out. Eight seconds in. I have not even had a chance to put them to sleep with my lecture.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:15:18] Right because they’re like, “I’m never going to do this.”
Justin Paperny: [00:15:19] “It ain't never going to happen to me.” So I remind them and say, you can tune out. Go on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, do whatever you want to do. I was once you and never could have fathomed that I would end up on the wrong side of prison boundaries. I could have imagined getting the rarest disease of leprosy or whatever, or go to federal prison. Tune out if you like. Here's my story and I've received thousands of comments over the years from students who are like, “Dude, we heard that you were coming. You were a guy at a jail talking about ethics. Isn't that ironic? I was going to tune out until you said to me, ‘Wow, this never would have been me and I too would have turned out.’ ” That resonates with the audience and they get engaged and it's not a scared straight. I don't believe in scared straight. It's conveying how easily we can rationalize choices and not just end up in prison, but lead to divorce and depression and suicide if we do not live a value-based life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:06] Yeah. Well, you hear that. Anybody who does something really dastardly, almost anybody, some like you mentioned infidelity. You see people going, “Oh, well, you know, I just figured that it was,” and you hear the rationalization. You very rarely find somebody who goes, “Yeah, I just don't respect my wife. She's never going to do anything about it anyway.” I've heard people do that and I go, “Wow, you're a dangerous person.”
Justin Paperny: [00:16:27] I agree with that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:28] Because you don't care at all about anybody. But most people, they do love their significant other, but they've just figured out a way to do some crazy gymnastics whereby what they're doing is not wrong.
Justin Paperny: [00:16:36] Right. It's kind of hedonistic as well. They're just focused on their own pleasures without considering how it could be impacting those that are in their life.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:42] So you wrote the first book from prison with a pen and a paper. That must be such a huge pain to write a book with a pen and paper.
Justin Paperny: [00:16:17] Especially when you have a little bit of obsessiveness, which I have and you hinged—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:51] Yeah, crossing out words.
Justin Paperny: [00:16:52] You obsessed over every word. There's no Internet. The computers were not accessible because the warden wouldn't let us use—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:16:58] Yeah, of course.
Justin Paperny: [00:16:59] He wouldn't let us use the typewriter, so they were just sitting openly in the prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:01] They wouldn’t let you use the typewriter.
Justin Paperny: [00:17:02] They wouldn’t. They're just sitting in openly there.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:17:04] I thought you were going to say the Internet. I was like they’re not using the Internet.
Justin Paperny: [00:17:08] Yeah, you can use the Internet illegally. I get some of those calls too. No Internet in prison. Yeah, just I had some help, a colleague of mine named Michael Santos, who'd been in prison for a long time and we created this plan where I would document this experience and just send it home. There's a value in being in prison and losing everything. There's a freedom that comes with it. I didn't have a career to return to. I didn't have money to return to. I didn't have a relationship to return to. All I wanted to regain was my dignity and I had a brain. So what I came to love in prison was the climb. I think if you look at anyone that's successful, anyone that's overcome anything, they find value in the climb of working their way back up. So for me, everything I did matter, every word mattered. And the criticism came my way, the inevitable criticism I continued to get to this day, it meant nothing, and it still means nothing today because I know going down my own road and own path, some people will find value in it. That was the beauty of having no Internet in prison. That was the beauty of writing something and sending it home, knowing that once it's in the lockbox of mail, I can't get it back. That was the beauty of thinking. I don't have a boss to offend. I can say and do whatever I like within reason, respectfully. So for me, it was very, it was cathartic and therapeutic and it was the best part of my experience of the prison. Just because my body was there, it didn't mean my mind couldn't work and it did 24 hours a day.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:18:27] I think I was thinking, you got me thinking about what I would do if I ended up going to prison for 18 months or whatever, or a year or something. And I thought, I have a huge reading list and I would finally catch up. My inbox would be a disaster when I come out, but everything else, there's just something about the ability to reset while you're in there. You did mention that in one of your videos as well, the worst time for you was not the time in prison. It was the time that preceded surrendering to prison. It's got to be like having an exam that you already know you're going to fail and there's no hope of getting of passing. So you're waiting for impact, delaying it, kind of thinking about it and ruminating over it and all that.
Justin Paperny: [00:19:10] So, as a number of clients in this college cheating scandal cases, said to me, “Justin, I'm begging for clarity. I'm living in the land of the unknown. Can I work again? Should I work again? Should I leave my home? How long am I going to go to prison? What's it like? I have no idea.” The waiting and wondering, and we tend to be our best producers in our own mind, creating what we think it's going to be like. A bunch of the time, it doesn't turn out to be that way. They're obsessed 24 hours a day with what this experience will be like for them if and when they go to prison. So then when you get sentenced, it's almost better than the guilty plea. They should have clarity. You have a beginning and an end. Yes. It's very hard to build something. It's hard to live your life. It's hard to build a new business, start a new relationship. Thinking about having children travel when you have a potential prison term looming over your head. It's incredibly difficult to even function some days.
[00:20:01] Some clients when they reach out to me or prospects reach out there and say, “I haven't gotten out of bed in weeks. I haven't shaved in weeks. I look terrible. I'm disheveled. I can hardly function. I've lost my job.” Success for them that they might not be building any business. It may be getting out of bed and going for a walk. This experience can be crippling and I can't tell you that everyone has sympathy for them because they say, “Hey, you shouldn’t have broken the law. You should have thought more about it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:24] Yeah, exactly.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:20:27] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Justin Paperny. We'll be right back.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:20:32] This episode is sponsored in part by HostGator.
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[00:23:19] Thanks for listening and supporting the show and to learn more and get links to all the great discounts you just heard from our amazing sponsors, visit jordanharbinger.com/deals. Don't forget we have a worksheet for today's episode, so you can make sure you solidify your understanding of the key takeaways from Justin Paperny. That link is in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com/podcast. If you'd like some tips on how to subscribe to the show, just go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe. Subscribing to the show is absolutely free. It just means that you'll get all the latest episodes in your podcast player as they're released, so you don't miss a single thing from the show. And now back to our show with Justin Paperny.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:23:57] I know you don't provide legal advice, but you've also said that a lot of the lawyers that people have, they're giving, maybe not bad advice, but at least misguided advice to a lot of the clients and some of the college admissions folks are getting pretty crappy advice from the sound of it as well.
Justin Paperny: [00:24:11] Let me clarify that. Lawyers may give excellent advice. The defendant may choose to not take the advice. There are some clients who have paid me a lot of money who may not take the advice and that's part of the reason in our case, we have payment plans over a period of many months and we reassess after 30 days. Are we on track? Are we hitting our milestones? Don't pay me at once. I haven't done all of the work at once. That would be insane. So, there are some defendants kind of like me a little bit who are in such denial and so ashamed that we didn't take any advice that we had paid good money for. Some of that is going on in the college scandal case. Lawyers are given good advice. The defendant is not taking it. Over the years, of course, there are some lawyers who will tell a client, “We can win at trial. You are going to prevail. I assure you we're going to win here. You got a great case. We're going to win.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:24:58] It’s so irresponsive.
Justin Paperny: [00:25:00] Then they spend a million dollars going through mock trials and discovery. And on the eve of trial, the defendant pleads guilty when they could have pled guilty a year earlier and saved a million dollars and the government would not have invested as many resources and they could have already been in prison and went on their prison term. So some defendants should go to trial. Some defendants who lose at trial should have prevailed. Can't blame the lawyer for that. Let me be very clear. But in some cases, lawyers along with any executives may give advice that may not be in the best interest, and that's why due diligence and vetting, speaking to clients, asking the right questions, asking a lawyer if you've gone to trial. Have you ever actually prevailed? Let me speak to two clients. Let me see how well you write. Defendants do not know how to hold a lawyer accountable. They're not criminals in the sense of their criminogenic. They’ve broken a law for 30 or 40 years. It's their first time.
[00:25:48] So I'm working on a book with a colleague, Shon Hopwood. He's a professor of law at Georgetown. Great story. He served 11 years for robbing banks and now he's a professor of law at Georgetown. We're working on a book together that's going to help defendants hold lawyers accountable, how to hold the lawyer accountable, how to make progress and to just make better experiences through the system.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:26:06] That's funny. People have said, “Hey, have you heard of this guy before?” And that's funny you work with him. Now, I know why the name sounds familiar, it has been in my inbox. I know you say that some lawyers, it's not their fault, but as an attorney myself, I look at this and I go, yeah, but we're not supposed to tell somebody something that we're not really sure about and you're certainly not supposed to say, “Hi, this person has a lot of money. I bet you we can go through a bunch of stuff and I can make a lot of money from them and then I can just suddenly turn around and plead guilty. No harm, no foul,” because there is harm because like you said the government then invests another 15 months or five months or whatever of resources in the case and they go, “Well, we can't just let you go now. We spent 300 grand investigating this.”
Justin Paperny: [00:26:51] I've attended a number of sentencings where even after the defendant pleads guilty, the government's still asked for the maximum sentence because they tell the judge, “Look, we spent three years and a lot of resources in investigating this case.” I don't believe in sizing defendants up. We've had clients who have been worth a billion dollars. We've had clients who had been worse, you know, nothing who has had to borrow money to retain us and everything in between. But I don't charge them based on what they have. We have a clearly defined scope of work. We know what we're going to produce and occasionally some lawyers based on defendant's net worth can, you know, size them up and say, well, there's a chance to get a $500,000 retainer. I don't think you're supposed to do that. Not all. I work with some terrific lawyers. The point is, in any business, there's going to be some shady characters regardless.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:27:33] Yeah. It's just, it's a bummer that it happens. I mean, being a lawyer, in my opinion, why we take oaths that are for a reason. It's like a doctor. A doctor shouldn't say, “Huh, well you have cancer. I can probably get rid of it using this, but I want to go through all this other more expensive stuff and it's going to take longer because man, I'm going to make a hell of a lot of money doing it. But at the end of the day, you're going to be cured. So what's the big deal?”
Justin Paperny: [00:27:57] What troubles me most sometimes with lawyers is even some who were former US attorneys or appears to be like the symbiotic relationship between the defense attorney and the prosecutor, almost as if they're more on the same page. Too many defense attorneys from my experience, especially when a client is innocent, are unwilling to get to every detail, every fact that may make the defendant's case more presentable. It's sometimes it shouldn't be just a formality that you're going to plead guilty or the second an indictment comes, “Well, the odds of prevailing at trial are very low. These are the guidelines. You're going to get them and I need to half a million dollars.” My response to a client is, “Okay, if it's such a formality, you're going to get this sentence and you should plead guilty. Go get a federal public defender, many of whom are pretty damn good. Save a half a million bucks and save those resources for your wife and family and let's go out and build a new business. If you're going to pay that type of money, it's not under the guarantee you're going to get a better outcome, but it is under the guarantee. They're going to catch every detail and fight, fight, fight, rather than just defaulting to the government's version of events.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:28:53] That's interesting. Now let's go back a bit. In your opinion, what causes people to commit crimes like this? You have the fraud triangle. I thought this was pretty interesting to see this slippery slope that lands people in prison.
Justin Paperny: [00:29:05] So I feel like an accounting professor when I talk about the fraud triangle. Okay, I'm an accounting professor for 15 seconds. It's impossible to go to prison unless you see some opportunity. In prison, I'm writing, I'm thinking, I'm reading, and I come across this kind of cliched fraud triangle and it starts off with pressure. We all face pressures in life--all of us. The difference is not everyone who faces pressures breaks the law. In my case as a stockbroker, I felt pressured to produce, pressure to prove worthy of my significant income, pressure to be liked, pressure to be appreciated by my senior business partner, pressure to stand out, the pressure to prove worthy of this USC pedigree baseball player who's now 26 at Bear Stearns. That came with a lot of pressure. We all face it. Sometimes it's pressure just to pay the bills. And then the rationalization, I saw others in my industry breaking the law, doing things that they weren't supposed to do, but they were getting promoted. Their career was advancing. I rationalized there's a w there is a way to increase your business and sometimes that includes taking some shortcuts. Consequences be damned because UBS didn't care. And then the opportunity, you can't ever break the law unless you seize an opportunity regardless of the rationalizations or pressures. So the opportunity, of course, for me was working with this deceptive hedge fund manager who is aligned to his investors who in turn was paying me $100,000 a month.
[00:30:24] So every client, if it's a street criminal, if they’re blue collar or white collar, anyone who's ever served time in federal prison or state prison has succumbed to this triangle and you can't close the gap without an opportunity. And oftentimes they'll create the opportunity or sometimes it's presented to them like the college cheating scandal case. These actors and successful business people, they weren't thinking. Yeah, like I said earlier, today's the day I'm going to break the law and ruin my life. Rick Singer presented an opportunity to them to help get their students and their kids into a school they might not have gotten into without help. They seize the opportunity, they closed the triangle and boom, they're indicted.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:31:01] When you phrase it like that, you can see how somebody who wants to do the best for their kid and is not really thinking about the consequences would get roped into it. But on the other side of the coin, you and I were talking about this before. There are plenty of people in the admissions scandal who are going, “You know, what, I got to fess up to this. This is a huge mistake. I can't believe I did this. This is so embarrassing.” But there are other people that are not doing that and they're going, “I'm going to fight this because I maybe think I'll get away with it or I'm delaying the inevitable.”
Justin Paperny: [00:31:00] I frequently hear from white collar defendants, “I didn't have bad intent. I didn't have criminal intent.” And they'll say, “Well, wasn't Hillary Clinton not ultimately indicted because she didn't have criminal intentions?” They draw these analyses that don't make any sense. They, they take one or two words from a statement of why Hillary Clinton is not getting indicted and they draw that into their case and see it and say, “See, it's exactly the same thing.” No, it's not exactly the same thing. I have to help them understand why having intent, it means nothing in the eyes of the government. The government has a belief that you broke the law and whether you chose to do it or not, it happened. Victims were created. You took shortcuts. So I have to help them on their stand that I would argue in this varsity case. Some are saying, “I didn't have intent. I was trapped into this. I was set.” I didn't say anything. I was kind of agreeing with someone. It is true. They were dealing with a career salesman and a manipulator and that is my opinion of Singer and I've said it—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:32:27] Singer, the guy who set up the admission scandal.
Justin Paperny: [00:32:30] Many white collar defendants, when they cooperate, they’re nervous, they're scared, they're up all night sick, they can't sleep. “Oh my God, I've gone from being a doctor and tomorrow I'm going be wearing a wire and cooperating against someone and I'm going to a meeting at a coffee shop and I'm going to be wearing a wire and the FBI is going to be listening. This is like right out of a movie. I can't do this. This is scared.” They're up all night sick. Throwing up can hardly function. That is what it's like for most defendants who cooperate. They'd never done it before. You listened to the tapes with Singer. You listen to him calling Lori and others pretty smooth.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:02] Lori Loughlin the actress.
Justin Paperny: [00:33:05] He'd been doing it for a long time. He's pretty smooth when he was on that cooperation tape and that's when you get a sense. He knew what he was doing and he had been doing it for a long time. There's a difference between lying once or twice in a career like Felicity did or Lori perhaps might've done and lying as a way of life, which I think was the case with Singer. That’s how we built his business. We've got to own that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:33:24] Yeah. That's interesting. And people in prison for white collar stuff, it's securities fraud, Ponzi schemes, tax evasion, fraud, drug offense, but all these people are like engineers, professors, and accountants a lot of the time.
Justin Paperny: [00:33:35] They're educated executives who never imagined they'd be caught up in this experience. Some of them are professors who might've gotten grants by claiming to do research. They've never done, PhDs. I've had clients go to Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Wharton. Funny story about Wharton. I had a speaking invitation there and then the invitation was rescinded because they didn't want to give the stage to a felon, which is ironic because at the time Wharton had like several of their alum in federal prison. So the message would have made a whole lot of sense at the time. But it's okay, I went from Wharton to NYU and it was a wonderful event. So yes, there are people who never imagined they'd end up in this experience and many of them struggle to respond to it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:34:14] I can imagine them going, “Look, we don't want to felon our stage like some of the people that have graduated from this business school.”
Justin Paperny: [00:34:00] Some professors found it so off-putting one that I'd be speaking to. He saw the fee that I was going to earn and he said, “This must be a joke.” And I said, “Well, the fee that I earned should be commensurate with the value that I provide. So even though someone else, maybe an editor from Forbes or Bloomberg is speaking, look at ratings we've received from other lectures we've given. If I've rated higher, I should get paid more based on performance.” The difference is they're like, “Well, this guy just got out of jail. He should be happy to do anything. He has nothing else going on. Why are we even paying him at all? This is crazy. He's a convicted felon.” So I've used that story as over the years where it's not necessarily the value that I provide, sometimes they just continued to box me and, “He's a convicted felon. Why should we pay him more from someone who never went to prison.” Pay should be based on performance rather than expectations.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:10] I think the question then is what's it worth to you to keep one of your Wharton students out of prison in the future with my lecture? Because I think it tarnished—Every time your alumnus goes to prison, one of your alumni goes to prison, the reputation of their institution is going to get tarnished to some degree. Is that worth—Is the fee higher or lower?
Justin Paperny: [00:35:29] Is it worth 10 grand? Plus you're going to get the books, which will benefit the students. I agree that now in this college cheating's case, it's not just the schools that are tarnished or potential alumni and now it's the coaches. Now it's the professors going to prison. So there's going to be long-lasting damage here.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:35:48] Yeah. Oh, man. It is such a mess and that's why this case is so interesting because I looked at the YouTube comments on some of your videos and the rage involved in this is extreme, but it's also understandable because there is an element of looking at someone who paid for their kid to get into to a school they wouldn't have normally gotten into and then the kids out there making videos like, “I don't even care about school, I just want to party.” And you just think, you know what, you're so unlikeable that I'm almost—I understand why everyone's mad.
Justin Paperny: [00:36:21] Certainly, but there aren't a whole lot of times where MSNBC may be totally aligned with Fox and in this case, the left and right are so aligned that these parents should be punished. I agree and believe that in many cases it wasn't so much about the children, but the parents, the ability, the ability to say my son or daughter went to the school. I know I went to USC, I played baseball there. I was not a major contributor on the team. The athletes were terrific. I was not. But the fact that I was there and I traveled and I played a little bit, my father took such pride in satisfaction being able to say my son was a USC baseball player regardless of how much I played. Well, a lot of it is the same thing with these parents to be able to say, my children go to Yale or Harvard or USC. I'm a graduate of USC. I'm surprised USC would get such attention because it's not Harvard or Yale of all. It's gotten harder to get in there since I went there in ‘93 but USC is not Harvard, let's, let's be clear, but a lot of it was more for the parents and the bragging rights.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:16] When you hear the tapes on Gangster Capitalism, which is the podcast where I was introduced to you and there's a guy on one of the Rick Singer’s phone call. He had just gotten done cheating on the SAT for one of the kids, and then the score was like 1440 or something. That’s like a really good score.
Justin Paperny: [00:37:36] It’s a really good score.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:37:37] And the parents like, “Why didn't you get him a 1550,” and you hear Rick Singer go, “At some point, no one's going to believe that your daughter got up 1550, 1440 is hard enough.” And you just hear him kind of like not so diplomatically saying your daughter is a knucklehead. “No one's going to believe this. We're already on the very edge of credibility and you want to fluff your ego that your daughter's a genius.”
Justin Paperny: [00:38:00] That's right. He understood. He understood that it had to be somewhat measured. Pushing the edge a little bit. Yeah, I listened to those tapes.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:08] Like it can look like a fluke, but it can't look like a miracle.
Justin Paperny: [00:38:11] That's right. It began to look like a fluke or a miracle. At USC, we practiced next to the water polo team. Some of the greatest athletes you'll ever see. Okay, let me be clear. Number one in the country, phenomenal athletes. Baseball for me was a full-time job since I was like eight. No difference with these water polo players. To create profiles that their child was going to play. water polo with USC, to play there are just the odds that are just so incredibly low. I think they got a little lazy over time. I think they felt there were no checks and balances. They had such a system in place. Over time, when you break the law long enough and you're so confident it can continue, you begin to get a little loose, you begin to get a little bit lazy and eventually it all comes crumbling down.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:38:53] You see people like there, “Hey, we need her to take a picture in near a boat because she's on the rowing team,” and it's like you're—
Justin Paperny: [00:39:01] That's the mail fraud by the way. You take the photo of the boat and you send it in the mail. That is a federal crime and some people have in this case have said, “I didn't know it was a federal crime.” It's like, yes, it's not like you'd have your coffee shop and they have a list of federal crimes put in front of you though you'd be stunned how many people break some law every single day. And I've said that the department of justice want to incarcerate everyone. They probably could find some law they broke, but many of the defenses, I didn't know that was a law. I've had a number of clients go to prison for what's called structuring, where you make deposits in a bank directly below $10,000 over a period of time.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:39:35] So that you don't have to report them.
Justin Paperny: [00:39:36] Yeah, and then they're like, “Well, I thought it was this $10,000 threshold. And I'm like, “Yes, but you did 9999 repeatedly over a period of time. You broke the law. That’s structuring and here's why.” And they're like, “Well, I had no idea. Nobody told me.” “Who do you expect to tell you?” So it's understanding that, that for some, it takes a little bit time. That's my ethics in motion. I actually write out the statutes of mail fraud, wire fraud, securities fraud, bribery. People have no idea until they read it.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:01] People think, well, if it's above $10,000 the bank has to report it. So I'm going to deposit $9,999 every three days for 10 years and not be caught.
Justin Paperny: [00:40:11] Or take out just that amount of money 9999 or 9900 or 8900 but over a period of time, these banks are pretty sophisticated. They know what they're doing.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:40:19] They're going to get a ding that goes, “Hey, this person is doing something weird.
Justin Paperny: [00:40:22] Yes, but because they're not, you know, criminal-minded, so to speak, and frankly, in some cases, we talked about infidelity earlier. There was a case where many, many years ago a client was taking money out of the bank and he was paying off a mistress. He had gotten caught. He’s a very successful business tycoon, and he had a mistress and the mistress essentially said, “Look, you know, either you leave your wife and marry me or I want to pay off.” And it was like, well, he and his wife did everything together on all of the bank accounts. So over a period of time, he withdrew money less than this $10,000 threshold and he was paying it, you know, to his mistress with whom he had broken up from and she was paying taxes on it. They had some agreement that she was going to pay tax on it. But as a result of those withdrawals over a sustained period of time, essentially trying to hide it from his wife, he was indicted for structuring and he went to, he went to prison over it. So it goes to show why even imbalances in your personal life, even when he was a very successful ethical executive who had built brands and millions of dollars in income, in balances in your personal life can lead you to federal prison.
Jason DeFillippo: [00:41:28] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guests, Justin Paperny. We'll be right back after this.
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Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:25] Speaking of the personal life, you talk about other inmates, one of which is his name is Steve and I'm sure that's in air quotes. This guy was a controller of the company for over a decade. He created some straw company. Tell me about Steve because the message never quite got through to him.
Justin Paperny: [00:46:42] So Steve was someone who I talk a lot with my clients about understanding your tendencies. Can you be swept into it? Can you be punished? 48 Laws of Power. I know you know the authors. That book is not allowed in federal prisons by the way.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:46:57] Yeah, he's told me that and a lot of people—
Justin Paperny: [00:47:00] It always finds its way in. Let me be clear.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:47:02] I volunteered at a prison and all of the guys were familiar with that book and a lot of them, the more violent and gang-related and sort of predatory these guys had grown up, the way they'd grown up. The one guy even told me, “I've read that book. It's all right, but most of it is common sense around here.”
Justin Paperny: [00:47:49] And that's part of the reason you get into Machiavellian type stuff and Napoleon and you know, and how P.T. Barnum built his business. It's like, wow, I had no idea. So I can understand why parts of it wouldn't be included but to someone like, like Steve, he didn't understand how easily he could be exploited. So in his case, he never thought about breaking the law but a boss comes to him and says, “I want you to do this. I want you to fudge this number.” And he’s like, “Well, I don't really think we should do that. It doesn't make sense.” And he's pressured and he's pushed and threatened with getting fired. If he does, you know, if he doesn't do it, then Steve's began to think about his wife and his children. “Okay, my boss is telling me to do it,” but part of it is he's a pleaser and he can't say no. People pleasers get run over in life, they will own you. So Steve's biggest problem was he knew that it was wrong. It's stunning how many people break the law and knowing that it's wrong that they still do it anyway because they're pushed.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:48:07] Social pressure, career pressure.
Justin Paperny: [00:48:09] Of course, so that was really the case here. He knew that it was wrong, didn't want to do it, compelled. He didn't think that he could say no. He thought that he would lose his job. And as he later said, “Big deal, man, maybe I lose my job, I still have my CFO, I still have an MBA, I can go somewhere else. I wish I would have thought to do that because I wouldn't have gone to prison and have to start over.” So the case, they're like so many clients is pushed to do something, knew that it was wrong, was afraid to say no and rationalize that this is the way the business was done. His boss was telling them to do it and the irony is in that case, Steve's boss gets indicted first. He's the creator of the fraud, the orchestrator of the fraud. Steve is involved in a kind of more tangentially on the side just doing what his boss tells him to do, but because the COO or CEO gets indicted first and cooperates first, cooperates against Steve, he gets a shorter prison term than Steve who I think got five years. I wrote that story like 10 or 11 years ago. The point is it comes back to intent. The government doesn't care. It doesn't matter if you were swept into this, they think you broke the law. They have a narrative and they are, they're out to punish and they love cooperators. Even if you were the one that created the fraud because you have the most to give. That's the first question the FBI will ever ask. I hope you're never in this situation, but if you ever are, the first thing they're going to say is, “Hi. It's nice to know you.” You say, “Thank you, thank you.” And they're going to say, “Is there anything you'd like to tell us?” And what they're basically saying is, “Tell us everything you did wrong or anyone else has ever done wrong. If you'd like to try to keep yourself out of jail.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:35] That's when I turned, where I go, “I'm just going to spill the beans,” and he goes, “Do it or let's get something on paper.” And I go, “Here's everybody that I was involved in. Please don't send me to jail.”
Justin Paperny: [00:49:44] That's essentially what they're looking for and that's what Steve's boss did. And then he cooperated the wire, the phone tapped the whole shtick, and before you know it, that's why that's white collar crime.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:49:55] You don't have these mafia rules. You're going, “That guy never really liked that guy anyway. Here's what he did. It's all his fault. I mean, yes, and my name's on everything and yes, I thought of everything but really it's all him.
Justin Paperny: [00:50:04] Actually, there is something called red color crime. A professor—
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:07] Red color crime.
Justin Paperny: [00:50:08] Red color crime. A professor, Rich Brody, University of New Mexico. I've spoken to his class. He's kind of pioneered this red color crime, which means white collar crime goes violent.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:17] Oh, interesting. Like blood on the collar.
Justin Paperny: [00:50:20] Yeah, that's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:21] That's what that is.
Justin Paperny: [00:50:22] So essentially you have some doctor who's being cooperated against. He's looking at eight years in prison. He's like, “I still have resources, I'm going to hire a hitman.” And that things occasionally happened. Red collar crime is a thing small. But every now and again when a client cooperates, I'll have to ask, “Who are the players here? Where are they from?
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:42] They own a bunch of restaurants in little Italy. It’s fine. They’re just food guys—Garbage company, construction, they’re nobody to worry about.
Justin Paperny: [00:50:54] That was very good. Nowadays we have to consider that question.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:50:57] Yeah. Oh, I'm sure. Oh, I don’t know. They're Albanian who live in Glendale. It's not going to be a problem, you know, like not at all, I'm stereotyping here, but you know, it's like people that you wouldn't mess with. And you think about this a lot. I think he would think about this a lot, going to prison, like what can I do to get out of this? And sometimes then you're looking at, I can't spend eight years in prison. I'd rather die than go. And that's why people go on suicide watch. But even before that, it's like, can I just off somebody, can I just run them over with a car and then maybe they will, maybe they won't catch me.
Justin Paperny: [00:51:37] Or we flee yet we don't think to pay cash because four days later we're found in Boise, Idaho using our debit card in a coffee shop and the Feds are there with helicopters and guns about 45 minutes later. We're not the best criminals and we got to own that. We've got to acknowledge that.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:51:55] We shouldn’t just stick with someone’s stocks. And a lot of these prisoners that you are with they're living in denial and that, that seems to be a common response that you found. Not everybody turned around and went, “I did this to myself. I need to figure this out.” A lot of people still seem like they're entitled or they feel like they were entitled to the money. How many people that you met felt that they hadn't really done anything wrong, that they were owed that money and they just went about getting it in another way?
Justin Paperny: [00:52:23] A lot of defendants will acknowledge they made some bad decisions. I don't think it should be criminal, civil at worse, maybe SCC, FTC, Federal Trade Commission-type issue, but not criminal. Then they rationalize, for example, they'll say, “Look at the mortgage meltdown of eight, nine, 10, 11 and 12. No upper-level executive went to prison other than one or two. They're choosing to prosecute me as the low hanging fruit. It's not fair. So they rationalize their way into convincing themselves they shouldn't be prosecuted. They're in a great deal of denial. St perhaps I didn't have intent. And then in time, if they take the time to read, we talk about 48 Laws of Power, Mark Manson's book, others if they take the time to understand the motivations behind their decisions, over time, they begin to see, yeah I made some bad choices. I can kind of understand the government's version of events. I don't fully agree with my prison term. I may not fully agree with everything that I pled guilty to, but I can now see how my conduct created some victims and how even in a tax case, the victim is a taxpayer who chooses to pay his taxes lawfully or in the college scandal case. I'll admit a defendant in the case reached out to me and it was a tough call because the call is, there are no victims here. If anything, it's my children. They're being shunned at school, they're being ostracized and it's like, “Hold on if I'm going to help you and maybe I won't be able to help you because you don't want to hear what I have to say. If you want to continue to live like the ostrich with the head bury, that's cool, but I won't take your money if you want to hear what I have to say let's begin to focus on who the victim is. Some kids working their ass off to get into a school right now that they may not get into because perhaps your son or daughter took their spot. Can you embrace that? Can you own that? Can you acknowledge that? For some embracing the reality of it is so difficult, so hard, so trembling that it's easier just to remain living in living in denial or like put they’re head bury.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:03] Because it speaks to your identity. Like, yes, I did essentially steal a rowing team spot away from an inner-city girl who worked her ass off to get it because my kid didn't try hard.
Justin Paperny: [00:54:13] Who wants to be on the cover of the LA Times or New York Times owning and acknowledging the biggest failure in life. It's like, “Has anyone ever got an F on a paper? “Okay, I want you to go tell the whole world about that F.” It's like, “I don't want, I don't want to do that.” Yeah, and that's exactly what I am telling them to do, to own and acknowledge their mistakes, that we're humans, we're fallible, but we can overcome them with the right plan. And unfortunately, in this case, many of these defendants, as you saw in those hundreds of YouTube comments, people perhaps don't look within. They don't think that perhaps they should look at their own behavior before casting stones at others. And that's been unfortunate here.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:54:47] It's true. I, I've mentioned before that I volunteered or went to a prison with a, with an amazing charity called Hustle 2.0 and a lot of the guys in there, it's 75 percent life sentences over a current, I think you had talked about this pre-show. The majority of them had accepted what they have done and they'd done these pretty violent and terrible things a lot of them. But then you hear some of their stories and you go, “I don't know if I would've made different choices in their shoes.” They go, “Yes, I've done made a lot of bad choices in my life.” And then you hear their stories. “When I was eight my dad killed my mom, so I went to live with my cousins and they were selling drugs and then one of them got shot and then they said they were going to kill me. I got a gun from my sister and then one of them came after me, so I shot him and now I've been in prison.” I'm waiting for the part where you do something horrible and it makes you a monster. I wasn't expecting to hear about how your life was a giant shit sandwich from essentially day one and you had no chance other than becoming some sort of superhero of willpower that hides in the library all day. Like you really think. How would you, how would, where would you have made a different choice? Well, at age nine you could have decided that you were going to read instead of go hang out with your family. That would have been the choice. That would've changed your life. Would I have made that choice? Not a chance.
Justin Paperny: [00:55:58] So you just touched on something that's that that's important for sentencing for white collar defendant perhaps versus another defendant. So I had a, a client who was worth hundreds of millions of dollars went to the best schools, raised with privilege like we couldn't even believe, and I could believe it. It just never happened to me. I could think of it. It never happened to me, but he was afraid to tell the judge about this privilege and opportunity he had because a judge could easily say, “You had it so much better than every defendant in this courtroom. You had it better than Jimmy was here three weeks ago, who had been in and out of juvenile hall from nine, 10, 15. Mother was on drugs, father was murdered. Other kids are in foster care. Of course, he's supposed to end up in the criminal justice system. Of course, it's going to be a revolving door for him. It should not have been for you. So what I encourage our clients to do is to own it, to acknowledge it. I've used this analogy before with the movie 8 Mile with Eminem where at the end of the movie like he does the rap battle and essentially he says during the rap battle, everything that the guy against him could say like, you did sleep with my girl and I am white trash and my boy did shoot himself in the leg and he gives the guy in the mic and the guy drops and he's like, “I have nothing else to say.” So we kind of want defendants to say the same thing, “Your honor, I did have opportunity, I did have privilege. I did know better for that reason. I never should've ended up in this courtroom. This is how I'll do better. I think it's important to draw that comparison between defendants, like you may have seen in that federal prison who frankly had it measurably harder to the point where I could not even imagine than most of my clients. Don't run from it, own it. And those sorts of things can help defendants out of sentencing. Stand up brings a sense of perspective, by the way. That's important here.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:57:33] Yeah. Yeah, that is true, and of course, it's not like the judge doesn't know, “Oh, you have the same last name as that guy who's on the buildings downtown.”
Justin Paperny: [00:57:42] Right. They're not stupid. And I've had clients, I went to Yale where my lawyer, my judge went to Yale, own it, talk about it, tell them you let them down. You let every alum down. What are your plans to become better? What is your path moving forward? That is, that is what it takes. The perspective portion of it is key because it's easy to surrender to prison Jordan and your focus on how your own life is imploding. “God, I’m in prison. What am I doing? This is awful. I have nothing left.” And then you realize, “I only have two years or three years. So fortunate and grateful and thankful because my bunk has got 20 years because of our country's mandatory minimum drug crimes. He's got 15 years left. I'll be home in two years. He'll have another 13 years to stand for count this.” You've got to find that perspective. You've got to become grateful for what's left versus all that's lost. And that was really a big transformation for me, focusing on what was left my family and my mind, and a willingness to work hard and be competitive versus obsessing over everything that had crumbled down.
Jordan Harbinger: [00:58:40] Speaking of owning it, tell me, tell me what the lie detector test. That was, that was when you were still in I-can-beat-this mode. Pardon me for laughing. It's kind of a funny story.
Justin Paperny: [00:58:51] It is very funny. Thank God I have an ability to be self-deprecating because even though I'm 44 now, I have to take you back to what I was thinking at 29. When my parents said, “We don't think you could do one day in prison, let alone five.” And I remember thinking, “Thanks for a load of confidence. I appreciate it.” But it comes back to what I said earlier, that I had never had any setbacks before, so I didn't think I could handle it either. I was convinced that I had done nothing wrong or that I should avoid any problems here. So I told my lawyer, set up a lie detector test and they said, “Why do you want to do that?” And I said, “You just set it up.” And they said, “Justin, it's going to be expensive.” I said, “Well, I have resources. I can pay for it. That's fine.”
Jordan Harbinger: [00:59:30] How much is a polygraph?
Justin Paperny: [00:59:21] It was like five grand, and it's presided over by a former FBI agent, a retired FBI agent that does the exam. So my law firm was in LA. They said, “Okay, we’ll coordinate it in San Francisco.” I said, “Fine.” So at the end of this meeting with my lawyer, he said, “Great, we're going to create this lie detector. Do not cheat, don't cheat. You show up, answer the questions honestly, and the truth will speak for itself.” So I said, “I'm insulted that you would think that I would cheat this exam. What am I paying you money for? This is ridiculous. I've done nothing wrong. I've been set up. If anything, this lie detector test will get me free.” So, of course, as soon as I said that to him, I went home, I started Googling how to prepare for a euphemism for cheat, a lie detector test, and then actually I called someone, I said, “I see you're selling a course online.” He said, “What do you need to take a lie detector test for us?” So that's a good question. That’s one lie becomes another. I'm like, “Well, I'm, I'm interviewing with the government and I just want to be prepared.” He said, “Great, download the course. It's 350 bucks. I guarantee you you'll pass or I'll give you your money back.” Of course, if you fail, you're too embarrassed to call to get the money back. You never call. I download the course for days on end. I'm preparing and studying for the exam like 12, 14 hours a day. Techniques, the squeezing of the tush, the clenching of the toe, answering questions appropriately, the way I breathe, the whole, the whole thing. I walked into that exam in San Francisco. So positive that I would pass. I mean I have invested in the hours. I had put in the time. When the questions and the questions came, I clenched the tush and curled the toe. I was on my game. I was ready to rock and roll down. I was thinking of the apology that eventually people would give to me for dragging me through this and the money that I'd spent in lawyer fees. That's how delusional I was, and at the end of the test, they said, “Okay, it's going to be a few minutes for the results.” And my lawyer said, “How do you feel?” “It's nice. I feel pretty good, man. This is good when it's about to get this show on the road.” And a little while later the FBI agent came back in and said, “The results are with greater than 99.99, nine, nine, nine, nine, nine.” I remember thinking like, how many times this guy going to say, not like, we get it, we get it, man. We get it. That I had failed the exam and I was in San Francisco. Ironically, I'll, we're looking at Alcatraz.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:01:40] Oh, so you're looking at it like this notorious prison and you're going—
Justin Paperny: [01:01:44] I'm thinking Shawshank Redemption, Cool Hand Luke. And then my lawyer says, “you're going to go to jail for seven years.” I'm like I'm stunned and then I went back to Oakland airport and I was like 30 pounds heavier. I got like three slices of pizza. I was kind of nihilistic actually. My life doesn't matter. It's all garbage. It's meaningless. Anyway. I'm going to eat, I'm going to drink, I'm going to smoke, I'm going to ruin my life. I'm going to jail. Nothing matters. I tried to convince myself that's the way that I tried to try to sleep. And then of course when I went to prison, the way part of the reason I transformed myself is I realized everything mattered. Every word, every statement, everything I thought mattered, even if it didn't matter to anybody else. And that was a big transformation for me. But that's how I slept at night by saying nothing matters anyway, whatever. We're all going to die. We're all going to drop dead. A thousand years from now and no one's ever going to remember that I went to federal prison. It's all good. That allowed me to sort of sleep as I went through this nightmare and misery.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:02:36] Resisting it made it worse.
Justin Paperny: [01:02:38] Oh yeah. I had bouts of like reality, like this is coming and then I would easily kind of revert back to it. Maybe they'll forget about me and maybe this won't happen. Maybe I won't go to prison. Maybe they'll see me that I'm a good guy. Maybe they'll see I didn't have bad intentions and there were a lot of lawyers who were welcoming my paycheck or welcoming their hourly rate to let me spend those tails.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:02] Polygraphs are usually, I think at best, 70 percent accurate. So what was going on there when he's like 99.99? Did he just go based on his experience he's probably just telling your lawyer, this guy is so full of crap?
Justin Paperny: [01:03:13] Yes, that's exactly what happened. Like, don't believe him. Tell him for his own good. It is obvious that he is lying. I actually gave him a look after he said nine for the seventh time. I was like, “Dude like we get it. I failed. I failed it. Get out. Let me speak with my lawyer. I paid you five grand. I flush more money down the toilet. Leave. Let me speak with my lawyer and find out what the next plan is,” because I'm looking in Alcatraz and I think I'm going to go to prison for seven years. Let me get this together. And you know, he did leave. I never saw him again. I did get his bill, which I paid.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:43] I'm sure it's like, “Well I'm leaving but I'm going to leave you with this.”
Justin Paperny: [01:03:49] I wish you well in prison. Yes, I'm sorry you failed the exam before you leave. Here's a bill.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:54] Don't forget to pay this.
Justin Paperny: [01:03:55] Don't forget to this. That's right.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:03:56] There's value in the catharsis that comes with finally telling the truth.
Justin Paperny: [01:04:00] It's almost selfish.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:04:02] To tell the truth?
Justin Paperny: [01:04:04] It's selfish. Even like my writing. I've said I write for my own clarity of thought. That others benefit from it as a value, but it was cathartic to finally speak openly about my bad choices to get some sympathy from others. Part of the reason we speak openly is because we want people to say, “Oh, you're a good person. We forgive you, we love you.” It is a really a selfish endeavor, but it also benefited me at sentencing when I began to cathartically talk about bad choices I had made and my plans to move forward. Someone called it a win-win. In my case, it was pretty selfish, but it's something I continue to do. I speak openly about my bad choices, both for me and for others. I don't run from them. We're humans. I think others can learn from them and it's part of my climb back to wholesomeness. I mean I have two young children and I don't want to think that this experience was for nothing. If it was for nothing, the government would have won. It would have been a horrific experience in my life. It had to be a net positive. And if that net positive it is ensuring that my children are those that I love and never have to endure this or people with whom I care about my clients can get through this more successfully than perhaps it was all worth it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:10] Tell me a little bit about what happens when you get sentenced. There's, so there's surrendering to prison and it seems like there's a right way and a wrong way to do this. This is the whole self-surrender thing is very new to me. I had no idea that if your—
Justin Paperny: [01:05:22] State is different from federal.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:24] It is okay. You can get kind of little advantages. These are the things you teach your clients like, “Hey, if you do this right, you can self-surrender. You're not going to have to get your doors kicked in or whatever.”
Justin Paperny: [01:05:38] In my case, I was sentenced to prison. The judge gave me eight weeks to self-surrender to prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:05:42] Okay. So it’s like close your bank accounts or—
Justin Paperny: [01:05:46] Prepare if you have children make changes, power of attorneys, businesses shut them down or whatever it may be. And plus it costs resources if they would have to remind me and put me through transit but that wasn't necessary. So most of my clients are able to self-surrender to prison. Some defendants, one, if they're convicted at trial, oftentimes the judge will immediately have them arrested and remanded to custody. And that is the real prison. That is when you're going through here the metropolitan detention center in downtown, that's when you got the chains and shackles on. You're traveling in an airplane, locked up using the restroom in front of people. You're around all types of violent offenders, murderers, rapists, thugs, kidnappers, child sex offenders. They don't segregate you as a white collar defendant when you're in transit. And that's something that some defendants in this college cheating case could face. So for example, I assure you if Felicity Huffman gets sentenced to prison, she will be able to self-surrender. She'll go to Victorville here in Southern California. Someone will drop her off.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:06:45] So she just walks in.
Justin Paperny: [01:06:50] “Hi, I'm Felicity. I'm here to surrender to federal prison. I have my medications, I have some money. I'm here to answer any questions you have. Thank you.” Someone will walk in with her and take her and they'll drive away and she'll stay. That's what will happen to her. As was the case with me. Lori, for example, if she's convicted at trial and appears as if she's going to go to trial, both her and her husband, you could expect—
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:08] That’s John—She married to—No, sorry, I'm confusing this. John Stamos that's on Full House. Maybe I should watch less TV 20 years ago. She's married to Mossimo, the designer.
Justin Paperny: [01:07:22] Correct.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:07:23] That's so funny. Not Uncle Jesse. Sorry to John Stamos. I didn't mean to sell your good name.
Justin Paperny: [01:07:28] And if they're convicted at trial and if they go, by the way, I hope they prevail because we send too many people to prison in this country. I don't think any of them need to be in prison as I've put in us that is to some people because it frustrates them and they get into the rich and privileged don't go. I just don't think our tax dollars need to warehouse them in a minimum-security camp. I don't the greatest, it's a lifelong sanction for them anyway, whether they go to prison or not. But in the Lori case, if she's convicted at trial, there's a very good chance the judge may remand her, maybe not let her stay out on appeal. And that's when you go through the transit. That's when you go through the county jail. That's when you go through the shackles. That's the real prison. And those are some of the cases where you are unable to self-surrender. And that is, it's immeasurably different and harder experience. The benefit of going through transit, by the way, is once you ultimately get to the prison, you're like, “Oh prisons easier because I just endure transit.” You always have to find some positives but generally, you want to avoid it if you can.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:08:21] Yeah. Oh yeah, there's, there's a lot of—Oh man, it can be so much easy, but it's kind of like one on the path that some of these people are on. They're not trying to figure out how to make this easier on themselves. They're just going to be in denial until it's kind of too late
Justin Paperny: [01:08:35] For some sometimes denial, even after they're convicted at trial, sometimes they'll, they'll come around and understand it, then look back and say, “Oh, it's just so obvious to me. How didn’t I know? Why didn't I do this?” I've had a number of those talks with defendants. Sometimes they'll say, “Oh, I'm taking a plea deal only because they threatened to indict my wife, so F I'm going to sign it, whatever.” And then like a year later they'll say, “Thank God I signed this thing because I did it. My wife kind of did it too. And by signing a deal, they kept her out of the indictment.” It takes a little while to wake up and acknowledge I broke the law, I cheated, I created victims. It takes some time. It takes some peppering and understanding of reading and learning and thinking of understanding the stakeholders, how the government views you, how the government thinks of you and if you can put yourself, I've trained FBI agents. I’ve been in the Academy in Quantico, Virginia, speaking to new agents. They're driven. They're out to advance their career, they're out to get convictions. If you can understand the mindset of an FBI agent, what their goal is, you can traverse this experience a little better.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:09:35] When you were inside you had a role model, Arthur as his maybe real name or maybe pretend name of the book. What did you learn from him that you share with your clients? Because there were other people in here that in your book that did not seem to learn anything.
Justin Paperny: [01:09:50] Well, the two biggest role models for me were Arthur, who unfortunately passed away in prison. He had an aneurysm and died on the track. Yeah, terrible. And Arthur really got me into long-distance running and the idea that this could be a really productive positive experience from the day I got there. He said, “You could recalibrate, you could read, you can write, you can think you can exercise.” So he was very positive. My other mentor who had the most influence on me and my life and as much as my father I could say, his name is Michael Santos, who has served 26 years in prison. He'd been in 22 years when I shook his hand, got an undergraduate master's degree in prison, wrote a very popular book called Inside Life Behind Bars in America, the St. Martin's Press brought out. He wrote it from prison. So you know, I wonder like, “Why are you smiling dude? You've been in jail 22 years. Like what's wrong with you? Are you nuts?” There's the stigma about him or this aura about him. And he helped me understand how using time in prison productively can prepare for a better life upon release. And he encouraged me to speak openly and honestly about my conduct. Remember like the Seinfeld episode where George did the exact opposite. “I'm going to order chicken. I'm going to order it to you. I'm going to walk up to this girl and say, ‘I'm George. I'm short fat, bald, and I live with my parents.’ ” She's like, “Oh, nice to meet you.”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:11:01] Yeah, he says, “Everything I do is wrong. I'm just going to do the opposite of my good instinct.”
Justin Paperny: [01:11:03] And it worked. So, part of me, I was like, I'm just going to do the exact opposite. I'm going to speak openly about breaking the law. I'm going to speak openly about living in denial. I'm going to speak openly about what I've learned from this experience. I'm going to speak openly how I was a privileged rich kid who had all the breaks in life and I deserved to be scrutinized. I deserve to be punished and I'm going to talk about how I'm going to climb back up. I'm going to talk about how I intend to tell a beautiful woman on a date someday that I just got out of jail, and that beautiful woman is now my wife Sandra, and we have two kids and she won't judge me for going to prison, but rather the lessons that I've learned and perhaps she can juxtapose my life before prison and after prison and say, “You're doing good things. I want to be a part of it.”
[01:11:41] I did everything different rather than hide in the corner. Don't talk about it. Lay low, be quiet. Don't talk about the bad choices you make. People are always going to judge you. It's like we're convicted felons. We're going to be judged for the rest of our life for bad choices. I want to create this new record. So by thinking differently, by creating my own record, frankly, by not carrying any longer what people thought, even guards who said, “Ain't no one going to care about some felon writing a book about ethics or prison. Ain't nobody going to care.” I wanted to correct the English instead, I just said thank you. By going down this own path with my own thoughts it's the reason that I'm here and I built this business and I'm happily married with kids and scores of clients who find value in our work going down my own path without concern for what others thought, doing it the right way changed my life and that was all a result of going to federal prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:12:31] You mentioned that in the book that some of the people who go in for white collar crime, they don't want to do the work it takes when they get out, and I get that. If you're a CFO of a big company or you are making or stealing millions of dollars and then you get out and you think, “Well, I'm just going to get some cush job. I mean, that's what I'm used to. I'm not going to drive for Uber. I'm not going to go work at Chipotle if they'll have me.”
Justin Paperny: [01:12:57] So you just summed up arguably the most important point for any white collar defendant who has to rebuild coming home from prison. Some think the work may be beneath them. Not all of my clients certainly don't. All work is honorable work. When I came home from prison, I worked as a receptionist for three months. I picked up phones, I poured coffee, I licked on envelopes, I sent faxes, 12 bucks an hour. Whatever it took to earn a law-abiding wage to begin to create a new record. I've had clients absolutely do the same, but admittedly, some defendants will reach out and say, “I'd rather stay in jail than drive for Uber. I have an MBA from a top school. I'm not going to—”
Jordan Harbinger: [01:13:32] I went to Wharton.
Justin Paperny: [01:13:33] Right, yeah, exactly. “I'm not going to do that.” So I beg and I encouraged them. “Look at this is like a one or three or five-year plan. What you're doing today, you may not be doing in three, five or 10 years, but you've got to begin to create a new record,” and if you can do that, opportunities open. I'm surprised at how many are unwilling to do it and frankly something at Mark’s book. I hate to promote Mark’s book, but I like his book. I've bought more than 200 copies of his first book and send them to clients. And something he talks about in the first book I like is everyone says they want something or something akin to this. He writes, everyone says they want and then when people see the work associated with it, maybe they don't really want it that bad because they don't do it. And that's what I frequently say to my clients. It's like the guy that wants six-pack abs, but he's sitting on the couch eating donuts. Well, maybe you don't really want it, but it's easier to talk about it. And that's a conversation I have with clients. If you want it, this is the plan. This is the path back. Are you willing to invest the time when nobody cares when no one's watching? When you have six followers on Instagram, two one Twitter. you've got a probation officer breathing down your neck for $100 a month in restitution. You're living in a dumpy apartment and you've got to get past thinking about who you once wore the life you once led the money you made, the women you dated, the private jets you flew. Can you get past that? That is no longer your life. Just like I'm no longer a baseball player. I couldn't even fill the ground ball right now. I'm so old. If they can embrace that, they can begin to put steps in motion. Some can do it, some cannot. It's really a reflection of what type of character do they really have.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:15:04] Yeah man, I can. I can only imagine. You're sort of part fixer part adviser, part therapist.
Justin Paperny: [01:15:09] I at times I feel like I, I speak to directly and to the point. Defendants had been through so much Wyman's words by placate. I don't use clichés. It is what it is. What kills you makes you stronger. No, no, no, no, no. Everything you do matters. That's what I tell them. That was a transformation for me. Everything you do today matters. Everything you do, the next job, the interview, what you write, how you respond to people when they ask you about your crime. You're beginning to create a new record and if you can look at it from that way as I did, even though nobody cares, nobody may be watching. No one's paying attention. If you can do that as I did, eventually people will care. Eventually, people will take notice, even if it's only your family, even if it's only your children. They don't have to do podcasts and be on media and write books and be on TV. If they're relevant in their own life. There's dignity in that, their self-esteem in that. Everyone has to find value in the client. I found great value in climbing back to a sense of respectability.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:11] You mentioned that you don't think the college admissions, some of the college admissions scandal, descendants should go to prison. Rick, obviously that guy is, he needs to go to jail.
Justin Paperny: [01:16:20] You could even argue. He did this. He really needs to go to jail but yes, he's going to prison. That's a whole different policy debate we can
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:27] Some of the celebrities that you're talking about before because it costs money to warehouse them and things like that and the embarrassment is bad enough. I mean, I do tend to agree at some level if just from a very practical level. Look, their lives are, are in many ways in shambles. Do I need to pay as a taxpayer 30, 80 grand, whatever it is to keep them locked up? There's a part of me.
Justin Paperny: [01:16:47] You want them locked up. Own it, acknowledge it. You want Felicity standing for count.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:52] I want to see her in an orange jumpsuit.
Justin Paperny: [01:16:54] You want the restrooms. You want the photo. Yeah, I get it.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:16:59] Yeah. I want to see Aunt Becky take a slice of humble pie even for like a month.
Justin Paperny: [01:17:04] You have to fully understand that. She is taking it all already. That's the point that I'm trying to convey here regardless of the prison term, it is lifelong from voting to reputation to the stigma.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:15] Cry me a river in California.
Justin Paperny: [01:17:15] I threw that out there. Okay. Yeah, maybe I agree with that one. But it's a lifelong stigma. And regardless of whether they get three months, six months, nine months or probation, it's something that's going to follow them for the rest of their life. And I think people who do want them to go to prison who may not recognize that their tax dollars could be better spent on the homelessness problem here in California. Drive through skid row right now. I mean, there are, there are diseases coming back to Los Angeles that we have not seen since the dark age.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:45] We just talked about that on the show yesterday with Dr. Drew, a friend of mine, Drew Pinsky.
Justin Paperny: [01:17:50] I did his radio show.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:17:50] Oh, you did? Okay. So he was saying, we're going to see maybe bubonic plague outbreak. And Jen and I were driving the other day and I said, Oh, there's a recycling center over there. And then I went, “Whoa, no, that's not a recycling center.” It's at a city of homeless people on a like a parking lot, abandoned parking lot. Unbelievable!
Justin Paperny: [01:18:06] People who work in skid row as executives are obtaining illnesses by walking to their office. So I'm not saying that some shouldn’t serve time in prison, but to warehouse them at more than $30,000 a year, plus the costs of probation and insurance in this country. Homelessness, poverty, there are myriad other places perhaps we can spend that money. But the criminal justice system, it warehouses so many people, it employs so many people. It's a bureaucracy that as an interest to continue to grow and employ and warehouse people. And frankly, most people don't think about their tax dollars imprisoning someone. So they just look at it as a cost. They don't think much about, and there's very little sympathy. I like to convey that to people, whether she serves four months or six months or gets probation, it's a lifelong stigma. In some cases, it can be a net positive for them. I think it was from Martha Stewart. She helped a lot of women in prison.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:18:57] Do you think you should have gone to prison?
Justin Paperny: [01:18:59] I think that, yes, I do. Let me explain why. I knew that it was wrong. I knew that while I was sitting in a meeting and someone was being told that a certain return existed, I knew that it was a lie and people were hurt as a result of that. Even though my case, all of the money was repaid, all the victims got their money back.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:17] That must feel good at least.
Justin Paperny: [01:19:18] I think even the legal fees. I think the money the lawyers get for represent, they got paid back as well, but it doesn't change that some of that humanity was stripped away. Their faith and belief in people as a result of being exploited or taken advantage of. So there should be a consequence and there also has to be deterrence and that's why these people are, the people in the college case would go to prison. The government will argue at sentencing, they're not going to recidivate. In other words, come home and go back to prison. They know that. The argument for imprisonment is going to be deterrent. Some doctor in new Haven needs to know what happens if you try to cheat to get your son into a school, you're going to go to prison. It's the deterrence factor that the government is going to argue for nothing else.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:19:53] Sure, sure. Look, this is probably something you hear all the time, but it is from your YouTube comment section, which we all know what comes out of a YouTube comment. But nothing quite says privilege like hiring a prison consultant before you get locked up because that's the argument is. “Look at these privileged a-holes and their privileged brat kids,” and now they're hiring this consultant and you and I were talking pre-show about how it can be pretty unpopular that you even exist doing this business.
Justin Paperny: [01:20:23] I have had to embrace this reality from the post and CNN and Fox and all of this coverage that I've had that I'm some pricey consultant helping privileged people stay out of prison. I view it differently of course. I'll share a quick example with you. When I was a senior in high school and USC came to watch me play, I had a baseball game where I was O for five with three strikeouts, and I made three errors. You would think I'd never played baseball before. It was horrific. If USC judged me for that one game, they never would have invited me to play baseball at USC. But over the course of the whole season, I had a pretty damn good year. So what we do is help clients convey to the government why the totality of their life should be taken into consideration while perhaps one bad choice they made shouldn't define their life at sentencing. That is the point here. There are good things that they have done, but the government has a version of events. They broke the law. They created victims. They deserve to be punished. Lawyers are paid to extol the virtues of their clients. They're paid to say --I know you're a lawyer, so forgive me-- but you're paid whether your client has a good or bad dude.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:21:23] Yeah, everyone deserves a zealous defense.
Justin Paperny: [01:21:25] Charles Manson, Bernie Madoff had a lawyer extol some good thing that they're sentencing to try to warrant a shorter sentence. You're paid to do it. We believe and what we do is help defendants articulate through their own words. I'm getting excited. Through their own words, why they're worthy of mercy. So I don't think it's a privileged thing to do. It's the responsible thing to do. If not, you're going to be judged for the worst decision. Like USC would have judged me for the O for five with three strikeouts and anyone can do it. We work with federal public defenders who were first a client that's going in for 10 years for a drug case. We have books for nine dollars and everything in between. It's not just a privileged person though. That floats well in the media. It's anyone who's willing to say to the government, “I made bad choices, but I can become better.” And we help them do that and we're privileged to help them do that.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:22:15] You have an interesting line of work that you're in, Justin. Thank you for sharing that with us today. I thank you truly.
Justin Paperny: [01:22:20] Thank you. I really enjoy your show. Thanks for the invitation.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:22:24] This is a great episode because I love the fact that he went to jail and actually became better as a result coming out of it, having done a bunch of personal growth and now he helps other people prepare for their time in there. And I know a lot of people will go, “I can't believe it.” The height of privilege to hire somebody to prepare yourself to go to prison. I get that. But I also think that there's something just so fascinating about the fact that this even exists. There's just something capitalist and magical about of white collar prison consultant and Justin is a great guy. We became fast friends. I really liked this conversation and what he does is important. I can imagine that no matter who you are, you're scared of going to prison, no matter what. So to have somebody tell you what it's actually going to be like, not a lawyer who's never been there and visited once one of their clients, you know, it's going to be a completely different set of advice based on experience. And I'm thankful that we got a chance to talk to him today.
[01:23:20] By the way, if you want to know how we managed to book all these amazing folks, it's all through our network. It's all warm introductions generally. People sending us things, sending us ideas because of the circles that we run in. And if you want to learn how to build that for yourself, check out Six-Minute Networking. It's our free course. It's over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Don't say you'll do it later. The problem with kicking the can down the road, he got to dig that well before you get thirsty. You can't leverage relationships when you need them. You need to build them beforehand. The drills take a few minutes a day. I wish I knew this stuff 20 years ago. It is absolutely crucial and you can find it all for free at jordanharbinger.com/course. By the way, most of the guests here on the show subscribe to the course and the newsletter, so come join us. Speaking to building relationships, tell me your number one takeaway from Justin Paperny. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram and there's a video of this interview on our YouTube channel at jordanharbinger.com/youtube.
[01:24:13] This show is produced in association with PodcastOne and this episode was co-produced by Jason “minimum-security” DeFillippo and Jen Harbinger, show notes and worksheets by Robert Fogarty, and I'm your host Jordan Harbinger. I read everything that you send me, especially the reviews that you put on Apple podcasts, those help others find the show as well. Go ahead and go to jordanharbinger.com/subscribe if you need instructions and I'll look forward to seeing that. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for the show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful, which should be in every episode, so please share the show with those you love and even those you don't. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
[01:24:53] A lot of people asked me which podcasts I listened to and one of those is, of course, Mind Pump. I've been friends with the guys over there for years now. I'm consistently impressed by how many people go, “Oh, I listened to you and Mind Pump.” And I thought originally fitness stuff, health stuff wouldn't be such a strong overlap with what we talked about, but our audiences overlap like crazy.
Sal DiStefano: [01:25:14] They do a, I think a lot of it has to do with just the self-improvement, that vein of self-improvement in both of our audiences and plus our audiences are cool.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:25] Yeah, exactly.
Sal DiStefano: [01:25:26] Yeah, it makes sense, right?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:25:27] Yeah, exactly. And it's, it always feels like, and that's Sal, by the way, from Mind Pump, of course. I got him here in studio. An episode recently that I've really like is 1067 The Five Biggest Lies in Fitness. And I would love to just go over some of these lies and what makes them lies because I mean look, first one is beast mode. I'd see people literally wearing t-shirts. It's a beast mode at the gym.
Sal DiStefano: [01:25:48] That's probably one of the more damaging lies in fitness, which is that intensity rules overall. It's the most important factor when it comes to working out. If you work out as hard as possible, make yourself really, really sore, then you're going to get great results. Nothing could be further from the truth. Exercise serves as a stimulus to get your body to adapt and change, and that stimulus needs to be appropriate based on your current fitness level, your genetics, and your body's ability to adapt and recover. If you over-apply intensity, your body will only worry about healing and won't worry about adapting. And so you get stuck in this rut of getting sore, in healing, getting sore and healing without actually ever progressing. One of the other myths about exercise is that all exercises are effective. Not true. The most effective exercises you could possibly do are some of the most basic ones. Your barbell squats, your barbell rows, your overhead presses, your deadlifts. Those exercises alone will give you 80 to 90 percent of all the results you could ever want. All the other exercises, we'll give you an extra five to 10 percent but it should never be used to replace some of those old school ones.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:26:53] Like those guys are, you're like, you're doing like a quarter turn AB crunch on one side and it's like, “Dude what are you doing?”
Sal DiStefano: [01:27:00] And that's a real exercise.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:02] I know, yeah.
Sal DiStefano: [01:27:04] Exactly. The other one is the meal frequency myth. This one's a big one. If I eat small meals throughout the day, it will speed up my metabolism. It'll make me burn more body fat, build more muscle. That is actually not true. It just gets them to sell you more meal replacement, power bars. The other one is that supplements play a big role in your progress. They actually don't. In fact, supplements play a very, very tiny role. And if I were to list the top 10 things that impacted your physique and your health and your performance, supplements wouldn't crack even the top 10. But we've been oversold them for so long.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:37] Yeah, they're really good at making your urine smell when you pee them all out 10 minutes later.
Sal DiStefano: [01:27:42] And then the final one, somebody looks good, therefore it means they know what they're talking about.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:27:46] This one gets me a lot. I used to hire trainers by like, “Oh well he's got a good physique.”
Sal DiStefano: [01:27:52] No, no. Genetics plays a massive role and there's an individual variant. That's huge, Jordan. Look, if I trained 15 people and I did a really, really good job, I would come up with 15 different ways of training people because people's bodies react and respond differently. And there are general truths when it comes to fitness, but you really only learn those when you work with lots and lots and lots of people and start to develop wisdom around exercise and fitness. And unfortunately, a lot of these Instagram celebrities that look really good have really figured themselves out and have not done any work on figuring out how to train the average person. So their advice oftentimes is absolutely terrible.
Jordan Harbinger: [01:28:31] I remember one product as a tangent, there was a product a long time ago, and I won't mention it, but it had to do with getting abs and it was heavily advertised on YouTube. And I remember I knew the guys from years ago and I was like, wait, we used to literally talk about like steroids and like crap that you are doing and here and then it's like, “No, I just do all these exercises.” It's like, “Dude, no, you're just, you're starving yourself and you have anabolic steroids. Like that's 80 percent of what you have for your six-pack secrets.”
Sal DiStefano: [01:29:00] Exactly. And so our goal with that episode is just to pick the five biggest ones and we dive deep into them and explain why they were created in the first place. One of those lies exists and what the truth is, the counter to those. What's the truth so that you cannot waste your time in the gym and not waste your time with the wrong nutrition?
Jordan Harbinger: [01:29:19] That's episode 1067 on Mind Pump. We'll link to it in the show notes.
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