My name is Sam Mangel and I’m pleased to reveal the back story on how I came to work with our team at both Prison Professors and also with Compliance Mitigation. After all, I’m asking you to trust in our team. It’s only fair that I reveal my background so you will have a better idea of who I am and how I got here.
My pathway to working with the team began long ago.
On April 12, 2016, at 7:00 am, I heard a knock on the door of my home. I went and opened it to find about eight people. They wore blue windbreakers with large FBI letters stenciled on them. They asked my name. When I told them, they put me against a wall, handcuffed me, searched my home and told my very frightened wife that they were arresting me.
“For what?” We didn’t have any idea what was going on.
While sitting in the backseat of a car, with my wrists locked in cuffs behind my back, we drove to the courthouse in West Palm Beach Florida. The agents told me the matter concerned insurance.
I founded a company that sold insurance, but I sold the business several years previously, in October 2012. When I sold my brokerage firm, we employed about 50 people. I had decided the time was right to move on to other opportunities, or possibly retire.
My wife and I moved to South Florida in 2013, where I enjoyed bike racing and the downtime that comes with semi-retirement. I dabbled in other ventures but never really committed myself to anything seriously. It never occurred to me that agents could arrest me for something related to a business that I had sold five years before.
When I hired a criminal attorney, he surprised me by saying the preliminary fee would be $75,000; if I went to trial, he said, the price could rise by a factor of more than ten. His fee did not include expenses for expert witnesses, mock trials, or other services I might need. When I told him of my innocence, he said that time would tell. We’d have to wait until the prosecutors started to give him “discovery.”
Three months later, he received the discovery and said he would begin to review it all. That took another two months. Again, I asserted my innocence and pledged to go through trial. Before I made such a decision, my lawyer told me that I should understand a few things.
First, he said, the discovery revealed some disappointing news about a person that my business used to employ. That person, a senior case manager, got into trouble with the law in an unrelated matter. In an effort to lessen his exposure to criminal charges, the person began to negotiate with prosecutors. The information he provided resulted in authorities launching an investigation into me, and a grand jury issuing an indictment.
Second, my lawyer explained that my trial would take place in Philadelphia. He explained that members of the jury may not understand the complexity of my case. Prosecutors would depict me as a typical CEO, who lived a lavish lifestyle. Although not germane to the case, those images may prejudice a jury against me. The lawyer advised that if the jury convicted me, I could face decades in prison. He advised that I should authorize him to work toward a plea deal. Based on his guidance, I agreed.
Three months later, I sat for a pre-sentence interview with the court officer. My attorney explained that the PSR interview would not matter, and I didn’t need to prepare for the routine meeting. He said I could complete some paperwork and answer questions truthfully in about 45 minutes.
Six months later, I attended my sentencing hearing. The judge didn’t know anything about me other than what the PSR revealed. Since I didn’t prepare for the PSR interview, the document favored the prosecution’s version of events. The judge didn’t know me at all.
My attorney didn’t prepare me sufficiently for the sentencing hearing. Although I spoke honestly and with humility, the judge said that he detested white collar criminals. I didn’t understand. Although my sentencing guidelines called for a term of less than 18 months, my judge sentenced me to serve 60 months.
I didn’t have any idea what had gone wrong, but I knew that my lawyer did not prepare me for the disaster of my sentencing hearing.
Once I surrendered to the federal prison camp in Miami, I learned that I could take steps to mitigate the sentence. In the end, I served about two years rather than the full 60 month sentence that my judge imposed.
That experience convinced me that we all should work to be our best self-advocates. With our team at Prison Professors and Compliance Mitigation, we work to help others prepare themselves for best outcomes.