MARTHA, quit whining.
True, it s not fair that you re headed to the hoosegow for a lie
while the Prez s old Enron buddy Ken Lay, who cut off investors
and employees financial legs at about mid-thigh, is still
out there basking in assets.
Life isn t fair. A lie that didn t hurt anyone, even the feds,
shouldn t cost so much. But it does. How did your lawyers
let you get away telling it? The feds, frankly, would rather one
not talk to them than lie. Now they ve warned all of us to keep
our mouths shut in their presence.
A mistake could be as dangerous as a whopper with prosecutor out to make his bones.
Just remember, too, there are lies and there are lies. Democrats
lie about sex, Republicans lie about money, and President
Bush lies about a lot of things.
But they mostly lie to us, not to federal agents or the SEC.
Know, too, that the lie you were caught in, while a felony, is
venial in comparison to weapons of mass destruction and to
the chief actuary of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid programs
telling a $100 billion lie to Congress, at his boss s direction
and for the sake of his job. Your sentencing judge ought to think
of these whoppers when she sentences you, though your lie,
bad enough in itself, also obstructed justice.
The ban on acting on insider info exists to keep average
Americans from being undone by Wall Street schemers and
their pals like you. You must face up to that reality and that
they got you not on insider trading but for lying about it.
Had you played it straight, you d be all smiles today, and maybe
no poorer. The 10 to 16 months in prison you re likely to get could be
halved by halfway house time, but you ll have to admit the
lie and grovel some. The justice system hates for convicts
to deny guilt, even if it s true.
Seems imperious, and it disses the system, which gives juries
fi nal say. On the inside, smile, cooperate, and keep your imperial
perfectionism and smart mouth to yourself. The practice will do
you good then and later.
Be assured, there is life after prison. Ask Michael Milken, or
Jimmy Minder, who went from serial armed robber to chairman
of the board of Smith & Wesson. To be sure, he stepped
down once he was outed, but only because of its product.
There also is life after bigtime lies with legal consequences.
Just ask Bill Clinton. He has never had it so good.
Your future can be as spectacular as your past if you put your
mind to designing it wisely. You re a bright light in American
cultural life. Prison won t dim that. You will be a cultural
icon after prison.
And here s some wisdom from Scott Shepherd, a Toledo therapist
who teaches people how to take charge of their lives.
First, he says, don t blame others for your diffi culties. Denial
is huge, and it s a big help for anyone wanting to stay miserable.
See what you re facing as an opportunity to fi ne tune, to
perhaps see the world with new eyes. It s work, but what work is
A newspaper editor friend was committed to a New York
mental hospital after a suicide attempt. It took a few days for
her to work through her rage. Then she began teaching poetry
writing to fellow captives. She was such a hit her keepers
hated to see her leave, but they did. You could be that kind of
inmate. Go for it. No one can pull you down. You go willingly, Dr. Shepherd said recently.
The work of change and adjustment takes courage, he warned. People around you may not cheer. They may try to drag you down because they could manage the old you well.
Don t put up with it. Don t ask why me? There is no answer. Just deal with what is. A day at a time, or, if that s too long, an hour at a time. You didn t control the verdict, though you could have with a
generous plea deal. Its aftermath you can affect, but not entirely.
You have total control of your response. That will be key
to survival in prison and success after. No one martyred you.
You did it all yourself, sweetie.
Above all, over the next few years, no lies, no excuses, to
yourself or to federal officials in any form. The late Hank
Deuce (Henry Ford II) had it right: Never complain. Never
explain. Take your lumps and move on.
Eileen Foley is a Blade associate editor. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org