Andrew’s Potential Problem: Lies and Deception May Bring New Criminal Charges

By · Saturday, June 19th, 2010

 About a month ago, I spoke with Andrew (not his real name), another prisoner at Taft Camp, who told me a story that caused me to feel some concern for him. Andrew was once a finance executive, but he found himself in trouble with the law when prosecutors accused him of using his finance company as a Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced to serve four years in prison and to pay $2 million in restitution. As a condition of his sentence, Andrew was supposed to pay $100,000 toward his restitution before he surrendered to prison. Instead of paying that money, however, Andrew converted his assets to cash and gave the cash to his wife to live on. When authorities asked Andrew to provide a financial statement, he declared himself to be without financial resources.

I was concerned for Andrew because a federal statute (Title 18 of the US Code, Section 1001) criminalizes the act of providing false statements to any federal law enforcement officer. Andrew knew that he provided cash to his wife, but he provided the cash in an effort to conceal the currency from the court. If authorities were to discover that Andrew had misled them, he could face additional criminal charges. I’ve met too many people in prison who dug themselves into deeper problems because they didn’t understand the severity of the criminal justice system.

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution may protect a citizen from self-incrimination, but it does not protect those who lie. Individuals who make the decision to speak with any law enforcement officer or submit any type of documentation to a law enforcement officer should be aware that providing misleading information could be a violation of law. When I pointed that law out to Andrew, palpable waves of anxiety suddenly washed over him as he ran his hands through his hair.

Individuals who become ensnared in the criminal justice system face a real struggle. I may be coming to the end of my time in prison, but I am preparing myself for a lifetime of close scrutiny. I anticipate interference from those who will supervise my release, and perhaps from many citizens in society. I expect to live under a microscope when I’m released, but my decades in prison have prepared me for the challenges I know I’ll face.

It would be wise for anyone coming into the criminal justice system to consider the law and to avoid making decisions that could expose them to future problems.

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