Opening Statements

Ex-felon's firm helps wealthy white-collar criminals prepare for their prison sentences

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Justin Paperny, who spent 18 months in a federal prison camp for securities fraud, runs a consulting firm that prepares white-collar defendants for life before, during and after prison. Photo by Philip Cheung.

As waves of high-profile celebrities, politicians and lawyers face indictments for fraud, extortion and bribery, consulting group White Collar Advice is ready to assist wealthy defendants who will soon leave their multimillion-dollar homes for the big house.

White Collar Advice, based in Calabasas, California, is led by convicted securities broker Justin Paperny, who says his team of former federal inmates offers more than tips on which prison camps have the most comfortable bunk beds or the best food.

“Rather than focus on the showers or the toilets or your job, focus on, ‘At some point I’m going to be home, and I have a family to support. And I can no longer be a lawyer or dentist or real estate agent. I’ve got to build something new,’ ” Paperny explains.

As experts on the federal prison system, Paperny and his firm offer white-collar defendants insights that complement advice from their defense counsel, starting after indictment.

“We help clients do more than say ‘I’m sorry.’ We help them articulate to the judge how they identify with victims, the remorse they feel, what their plans are moving forward and, of course, why they’ll never return to a courtroom,” Paperny says. “So the more quickly we can begin that process, the better the outcome is going to be.”

The firm also can pick up where attorneys leave off if when, despite everyone’s best efforts, the client is incarcerated.

“Oftentimes, this is their first and only offense,” says David Rosenfield, a criminal defense attorney with New York City-based Herrick Feinstein who has collaborated with White Collar Advice. “They’ll come in, and they help out in terms of telling the client what to expect in prison.”

The advice comes straight from Paperny’s own experience. Convicted in 2007 for securities fraud, he spent his 18-month sentence in a federal prison camp planning a new career as a consultant for those who enter the federal prison system.

“Rather than say, ‘I’ll work on things when I come home,’ and ‘there’s no opportunities because I’m a felon,’ and ‘you can’t do anything in prison,’ I avoided that noise and nonsense, wrote clearly defined goals, and I held myself accountable and I encouraged my network to hold me accountable,” Paperny says.

Often holding positions of privilege, influence and wealth, white-collar offenders worry most about resuming a professional life. And for good reason.

“They may lose their license once they are convicted of a felony, and so if that happens you can’t go back into your industry,” says Rosenfield, who is a past chair of the ABA’s White Collar Crime Committee. “Sometimes it’s not a permanent bar—you can reapply after a number of years, but usually you automatically lose your license in certain fields. Law, securities are two examples that come to mind.”

In addition to helping the educated, privileged or rich recover from a prison term, Paperny says he has worked with clients referred to him by federal public defenders. He and his colleagues, he says, have reached thousands of inmates during visits to federal prisons across the country where they have shared advice on how to move past their sentence and return to a productive life. The firm also has consulted with federal prisons in California on inmate re-entry programs aimed at changing behaviors, developing new values and setting goals.

“It does no good to come home from prison if you are totally unprepared for the next phase of your life,” Paperny says.


This article appeared in the June 2019 issue of the ABA Journal under the headline: "Prison Prep: Ex-felon’s firm helps the wealthy sentenced in white-collar cases"

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