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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Stay Silent, Stay Free?

Brief note on today's Kenneth Starr ("Adviser to the Stars") and Andrew Stein indictments charging an alleged investment fraud (reportedly a Ponzi scheme?) on investor-victims reported to include Sylvester Stallone and Wesley Snipes.

Former perennial candidate (and loser) Andrew Stein is reported to have previously been talking with IRS investigators. Perhaps he thought he could say something, anything to convince the investigators that they were wrong.  That talking is reportedly the basis for his criminal charge.

Point: Don't try to "talk your way" out of trouble. Some people are so used to smooth-talking their way through life, or getting away with serial lies, that they have little clue and less regard for the consequences of getting exposed (caught) in their web of lies. There is a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. Some suspects, if they only used that right, may be better off risking reputational damage rather than risking -- or inviting -- Title 18, Section 1001 false statements criminal liability.

Crazy as this may seem, but a foolish person, who decides to talk and who may be entirely innocent, risks criminal liability -- and may have a greater chance of being prosecuted and convicted -- than a cagey, malevolent criminal who knows darn well he is stone-cold guilty but who also knows that there are some situations where talking can do no good, no matter what is said or to whom it is said.   Some people have gotten so used to lying that they think there's something they can say, someone they can fool -- and they risk one day being proven wrong.

Eric Dixon is a lawyer in New York who consults on certain business defense cases, investigates cases involving potential civil, regulatory or criminal liability, and knowledgeable about corporate governance and the federal securities laws. 

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