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Who Helps Rich Dudes When They Go to Prison?

If you are convicted of crimes and get carted off to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison, call Richard Zaranek.

by Harry Cheadle
03 April 2012, 3:00pm


Photo courtesy of Richard Zaranek

Rich dudes have people who help them through every aspect of their lives, from nannies to drivers to accountants to business advisers. But who assists them when they’re convicted of crimes and have to get carted off to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison? That would be Executive Prison Consultants LLC, a company founded by Richard Zaranek (himself a white-collar ex-con) to help well-heeled nonviolent criminals navigate the confusing and Kafkaesque justice system throughout the journey from Master of the Universe to common jailbird to free-at-last. We spoke with Richard to ask him what his job is like.

VICE: Say I get charged with a crime by the feds and I’m in a lot of trouble. How can you help me?
Richard Zaranek:
What we’ll try to do is see if the prosecutor is in a bargaining mode, which most of them are, and then we’ll try to add certain enhancements to the deal that will aid in getting that person placed at a facility that is appropriate for him or her. Essentially we’re putting together a package of materials that demonstrates to that judge why the sentence should favour the defendant.

How heinous is the level of crime on average?
We’re not talking about molestation, rape, murder, armed robbery, weapons or violence. We’re talking about this white-collar world where it’s a simple thing of signing off on some papers or ignoring information that perhaps they should’ve scrutinised more deeply, maybe taking a bribe to look the other way when certain things are happening, stuff like this that kind of happens out there every day. You delineate the positive attributes, put the best foot forward and simply ask the judge to consider that.

What happens after one of your clients is sentenced to prison?
We then engage in a whole series of training, education, and preparation that addresses the change of lifestyle that’s about to be imposed. Once they become an inmate – from the day they walk into the front door of that prison until the day they leave – their life takes on a whole different set of issues that they must deal with.

What kind of issues?
The fundamental change is that it’s a very procedural-oriented environment. You have to comply with the rules and regs that are set down, and for many white-collar people that is a big change in lifestyle, because you have to do what these correctional officers tell you to. You’re gonna be dealing with people who make nine to ten bucks an hour, who are minimally educated.

It’s a reversal of the outside order.
That’s exactly right. Those lowlifes and peons at the bottom of the food chain are now the ones running your life, and you need to comply with that or else you’re going to have a nightmare of problems.

@HCheadle

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