Jeff Krantz is a member of our White Collar Support Group that meets on Zoom on Monday evenings. On March 6, 2023, we will hold our 350th meeting – 7 years of community!
Below is an excerpt from an email exchange between Jeff Grant and I discussing my blog submission for the 350th meeting. Below that is my original piece. – Jeff Krantz
Jeff Grant: “Experience, strength and hope. You discuss the experience, but you never get to the strength and hope parts. These 350th meeting reflections have to show people how we help people navigate their issues. You have a better story that can help people.”
Jeff Krantz: “Every morning that I open my eyes and get out of bed is an exercise in hope and strength.”
The thing that I’m fairly certain that distinguishes my white collar prosecution from everyone else within our group and almost certainly in the realm of white collar prosecutions universally is that I was tacitly and ultimately explicitly being held responsible for the crash of a military helicopter and the death of two service people. Of course, were this true, I would be writing to you from your local supermax.
It’s this absurdity that has ruined my life. It is also painful in a way that is different than the ways we are used to hearing about in the normal course of sharing in our group. Because people’s deaths are attached to my experience, I have not spoken about it up until now. The eternal twilight of this single event is that I carry with me always, like Jacob Marley’s chains, the echos of guilt for a crime, the worst possible crime, for which I’m not guilty nor is it the one they could hang on me so they made one up that they could . How do you begin speak about that? Nonetheless, for ten years I’ve gone about my life making progress, in a manner; overcoming setbacks to a degree; taking joy where I can find it; and small solace in knowing the truth even when it doesn’t matter one whit.
In 2012 , microcircuits that my company sold to a customer turned up in a tragic helicopter crash. The chips were never considered as the cause of the crash.We were investigated for three years for being suspected of having sold suspect counterfeit electronic components. The parts that we had sold had been documented as passing the highest levels of military testing, the gold standard at the time for detecting counterfeit parts; nonetheless the government proceeded with charging me.
Below is a meditation on the absurdity of my prosecution.
It had been thought by some, in isolated pockets of the government, that I bore an ancillary responsibility for the crash of a military helicopter in 2011 causing the death of two active duty service people. The facts of the matter were clear with regard to the cause of the tragedy which had been thoroughly documented in the ensuing investigation as being attributable to a failure of the ship’s FADEC, The Full Authority Digital Engine Control, which functions exactly as the name implies, a mechanical piece of technology that manages engine function, taking control out of the hands of the pilot,making thousands of minute adjustments per second based upon readings taken from sensors, located throughout the ship and inflowing environmental data.
The apparatus in question was manufactured by what would come to be known in legal documents and public filings only as “the Connecticut Company”. Once I was charged the narrative entered the public domain therefore preventing the name of the responsible entity into the public record to protect its reputation from being associated with a criminal investigation when not having been formally charged. In fact the entity, the Badpoor Company, who had previously bore responsibility in another instance of a failed FADEC, also resulting in loss of life, was the manufacturer, and in both cases resulted in the levying of substantial civil penalties against the corporation but no criminal charges whatsoever.
The imperative to determine a source of prosecutable responsibility, other than the one that had universally and conclusively been determined to be at fault, demanded a stretching of the facts beyond what could reasonably be considered the viable elasticity of the truth. Those with a vested interest in the matter, however, were untroubled by their roles in heedlessly defying the fundamental guidelines in determining criminality and intent for the sake of their own closely held motivations of pursuing my prosecution.A fruitless three year endeavor with the ostensible objective of bringing to justice for a crime that did not occur, but that seemed to need someone to pay the price. I was the available if unlikely candidate chosen for the sole purpose of a civilized public pillorying and having his life ruined.
The cadre of government prosecutors, investigators, witnesses, and assorted silent bystanders, all of whom either directly or peripherally engaged in my prosecution, had no motivation or interest in upholding the truth or the law, both of which could be recognized with the luminosity of a high visibility jumpsuit lit by headlights in the middle of a nighttime highway. There was barely enough stretch left in the fabric of their convictions to ensure that their balls didn’t drop out from the sides or that their asses remained covered, while I took the fall for everything, with a single plea of wire fraud, allowing for the resolution blithely accepted by, investigators, prosecutors and managers straight up the line even the judges, all content to disregard the flagrant absurdity of my lone criminal count, to claim victory.
Throughout my prosecution the true tragedy of the helicopter is never referenced and for which neither the investigation, nor the presiding Magistrate could find a convincing crime that I was either responsible for, or that I could allocute to, despite the hours long negotiations between myself, my attorneys and the line AUSAs prosecuting my case. The end result was to fabricate a seemingly viable criminal act for me to plea to that would fulfill their ambitions and bring the whole fucking ordeal to a close.
What I couldn’t perceive from that vantage point, but one that became visible once my vista had been raised high enough, was to clearly see the catastrophe that my life had become was never going to resolve. In defiance of the most basic laws of physics, the ripples emanating out from the pebble cast into the relative tranquility that had been a self satisfied existence of school auctions, two star restaurants and luxury holidays with friends, were now growing to tidal proportions the further out they receded from the event horizon of the stone’s drop, ameliorating the generative event’s relevance until it no longer mattered leaving only the all encompassing waves to pull me under.
Unseen by me, the Magistrate ultimately gave way to the desperate ministrations of my lawyers who were acting reluctantly, upon my instructions, to compel her to accept the fabricated conceit that was agreed upon by all parties. A fatalistic recognition that whatever we came away with would be nothing that anybody wanted and the best that anyone was going to get. For me in particular, whatever deal I was able to cut all other options would be worse than the one that I would ultimately be confronting, at least that was how it had appeared to me waiting outside of the courtroom. It was as though Joseph K from Kafka’s “Trial” had entered through the wrong end of the looking glass, insistent upon remaining in the courthouse prostrate before the judge to willingly plead guilty to the unknown crime and take the consequence, despite his innocence, and the judge refusing to to accept his ministrations insisting he should leave the courthouse to face the consequences of his freedom.