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Forum Post: Putting Wealthy People in Prison

Posted 11 years ago on Oct. 9, 2011, 7:59 p.m. EST by randallburns (211) from Washougal, WA
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In the late 90's, I worked on a kind of mini-enron investigation. I am a database administrator and software engineer and I was hired to work with a team of Price Waterhouse Coopers auditors. Our investigation resulted in the successful conviction of a corporate CEO-Bill Griffen. He pleaded guilty to illegal campaign donations as a result of our investigation.

What this experience taught me: in the present legal system it is all but impossible to convict a very wealthy person of a crime. Our efforts had to be pretty extreme. They were motivated in part because had the law been actually enforced, several state legislators probably should have been punished also. What Griffen was doing was essentially paying lawmakers to write laws that would specifically benefit his company.

I personally think that we have a serious problem in the US with overly concentrated wealth. We also have an upper class that really are prone to fraud, criminality and enriching themselves via manipulating the political system.

I don't think we can expect the judicial system to work by itself. Just raising the demand that the current laws be enforced on Wall Street is a big step foward. We will need new laws though. I also think it is likely the real problems will simply not be raised by the corporate media-which in the final analysis depend on advertising revenue to survive.



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[-] 1 points by taxbax (159) 11 years ago

how can you assume all wealthy people are gulity of crimes? Surely there are some who are but it is a free society that allows individuals to (legally) make a fortune.

[-] 1 points by randallburns (211) from Washougal, WA 11 years ago

I didn't say that all wealthy people are guilty of crimes. However, I see no evidence that they are less prone to criminality than the general population. it is clear the wealthy are far less likely to be punished for the crimes they commit than the rest of us.

What is clear is that the wealthy make a much larger portion of political donations than the rest of us-which means they get legislation that specifically benefits them-often times at the expense of the rest of us. This may not be criminal in the US-but it ought to be.

[-] 1 points by taxbax (159) 11 years ago

i agree with all you say. id just be careful of the generalizations.

[-] 1 points by JeffBlock2012 (272) 11 years ago

just to nitpick - you said he pleaded guilty, which means he wasn't convicted, but plea bargained which I assume he and his attorneys felt was minimizing his exposure:

"Griffin, at the time worth more than a half-billion dollars, pleaded guilty to a single felony conspiracy charge and spent five months at a Panhandle prison camp."

I also see he paid about $1.5 million to the federal government as a fine.

[-] 1 points by randallburns (211) from Washougal, WA 11 years ago

Yes, it was a plea bargain. He was risking being convicted of a lot more than illegal campaign donations. The insurance commissioner-and key members of the Florida state legislature wanted this to all go away fast. If the law had really been enforced-a lot more folks would have gone to prison-including various legislators and employees of Griffen.

When the dust cleared, Griffen had lost more than 2/3 of his previous net worth.had evaporated. He had to sell Riscorp for a small fraction of its previous valuation(it wound up in the hands of a company run by Michael Milken's cousin Stanley Zax). I think the original sentence was 2 years-but he actually served 5 months.

[-] 1 points by BigDikdJew (61) from Stratford, CA 11 years ago

Start by putting corrupt government officials in prison; shouldnt the recipient of Griffin's illegal campaign donations be held responsible as well?

[-] 1 points by randallburns (211) from Washougal, WA 11 years ago

Many of them should have been-if not legally, morally. In practice what happened is Griffen was induced to plead guilt-and it all got swept under the rug. Katherine Harris helped put Bush into office-and got a congressional seat for a while.

[-] 1 points by atki4564 (1259) from Lake Placid, FL 11 years ago

True, the legal system can't do it alone and the media won't help, and although I'm all in favor of taking down today's ineffective and inefficient Top 10% Management Group of Business & Government, there's only one way to do it – by fighting bankers as bankers ourselves. Consequently, I have posted the Strategic Legal Policies, Organizational Operating Structures, and Tactical Investment Procedures necessary to do this at:




if you want to support a Presidential Candidate Committee at AmericansElect.org in support of the above bank-focused platform.