Friday, November 30, 2007

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher states - Michael Vick Facing Longer Prison Sentence

Many thought that Michael Vick would be sentenced to a year and a day for his conviction on "dog fighting." Some had said that he threw his career to the "dog" as it were, but with a short sentence and voluntarily surrending and starting the sentence now, it was thought that Michael might just be back in the game for the '08 year.

Not so fast. today two of Michael Vick's co-defendants in the federal dog-fighting case received sentences at the high end of the Sentencing Guidelines range. Now there is some thought that Vick might face a longer prison term at his sentencing in December.

According to the Associated Press, "A federal judge made clear his disdain for animal cruelty when he sentenced two of Michael Vick's dogfighting cohorts to 18 months and 21 months in prison Friday.

"You may have thought this was sporting, but it was very callous and cruel," Judge Henry Hudson told Quanis Phillips of Atlanta, who received the longer sentence.

The prison terms for Phillips and Purnell Peace of Virginia Beach are a little longer than prosecutors recommended, but less than the five-year maximum Hudson could have imposed.

Vick still could get a sentence above the negotiated range in his case -- a year to 18 months -- if (Judge) Hudson concludes 27-year-old Vick is more culpable than the others because he admitting bankrolling the operation and providing gambling money.

According to court papers, Vick not only financed the "Bad Newz Kennels" but also participated in executing several underperforming dogs by drowning, hanging and other means. "

Should Vick be sentenced to the mid to upper range of the sentencing guidelines, he would be out for at least half of the '08 NFL season.

Every choice has a consequence!

My guess is Michael Vick would have never considered this as a result of his actions. Frankly, neither did I expect the consequences I received. My misdeeds were illegal and I deserved the punishment I received. But, during the time of the illegal actions, I never expected prison.

Hopefully, Vick will use his influence to help others so that they don't face the consequences that he is facing today. Holidays behind bars are no fun.

As always, your comments are welcome.

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher - signing off...

Texas Man Sentenced to 40 Years for Mortgage Fraud - Dude That's Over Half His Life!

There is a wonderful blog called the "Mortgage Fraud Blog" that is a good resource for information on this specific type of fraud. On November 27, 2007 the following was reported as is quoted here:

Stevie L. Johnson, a former licensed Escrow Officer, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his part in a multi-million dollar mortgage fraud scam in the Houston, Texas area. The case involved the fraudulent acquisition of mortgage loans associated with approximately 300 residential properties valued at nearly $40 million. The prosecution was the result of a long-term investigation by the Consumer Fraud Division of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) Fraud Unit. TDI is the state regulatory agency responsible for licensing title insurance companies, title agents and escrow officers.

Two other defendants in the case were previously convicted for their part in the fraud scheme; Mark A. Jones was sentenced to 25 Years by the 232nd District Court and Reginald Washington was sentenced to 8 years by the 184th District Court.

Markay Stroud, the Assistant District Attorney in Harris County responsible for prosecuting Johnson‘s case, emphasized that the investigation is ongoing and additional indictments are expected.

Earlier this year, the 80th Texas Legislature took action to address mortgage fraud by creating the Texas Residential Mortgage Fraud Task Force under House Bill 716, authored by Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton) and Sen. Kip Averitt (R-Waco). The 2007 legislation was intended to reduce false or misleading information on residential home loan applications by increasing cooperation among regulators and requiring new disclosures at closing.

Now, I'll be the first to say, I don't know Mr. Johnson's age, but unless he started his mortgage/escrow career as a teenager, he'll likely either die in prison or exit as an old man. Neither is a fitting way to end one's life.

As a national business ethics speaker, I speak around the country about one primary topic: Ethics = Choices and Consequences. Every choice has a consequnce! No matter what we might think or how we might rationalize it - Every choice has a consequence.

Was Mr. Johnson just a bad, unethical man? Some, who are quick to judge might say yes - otherwise how could he have committed such a crime? My guess, however, is that he didn't start out unethical in his profession. Rather, the perfect storm existed for his crime to be committed.

The "perfect storm?" Yep...and here are the three components: Need, Opportunity and Rationalization. When those three are present, in many cases, an otherwise ethical person may make unethical decisions - under the illusion that it's really O.K.

Now, I can't speak for Mr. Johnson, but I can speak for myself. That was exactly the sequence in the fraud that sent me to Federal prison.

So how do we create a way to keep the storm from brewing? As I consult with companies I find three things to be true: (1) if you evalutate your employees for example, you can often see when the need issue arises (without a severe need there is no fuel for the fraud); (2) a good system of internal controls reduce the opportunity (and without opportunity one cannot perpetrate the fraud); and (3) keeping people focused on right behaviors - consistently - helps to eliminate or difuse "rationalization."

For information on programs that might help your organization on ethics and anti-fraud visit my web site at

Comments are welcome...

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher signing off...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Mortgage Fraud - 30 Years in Prison - Business Ethics Speaker Chuck Gallagher Asks - Excessive?

O.K. I say often - Every choice has a consequence! I live and breath that concept. I've lived it - serving time in prison. But, I have to ask in these comments - Is 30 years excessive?

According to the White Collar Crime Prof Blog the following was stated: "United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida issued a press release that Samantha Johnson and Scott Warren Johnson, husband and wife, were sentenced following their guilty please to "a wide-ranging mortgage fraud scheme." The sentences were 60 months for Samantha Johnson and one year for Scott Johnson. The press release said that they received "in excess of 2.5 million in ill gotten gains."

Now compare this to the sentence received by Chalana McFarland, a first offender who was sentenced for mortgage fraud (see here) to 30 years imprisonment for her role in an extensive mortgage fraud scheme that skimmed $20 million from the sale of over 100 homes from 1999 to 2002.

Why such a disparity in sentence? Could it be that the first group of individuals plead guilty and the second person risked trial? When the stakes are so high, do you really have a constitutional right to a jury trial?"

The White Collar Crime Prof Blog goes further to state:

30 Years to Non-violent First Offender in White Collar Case

The case of Chalana McFarland, pending in the 11th Circuit, is a case that should be closely watched as it involves a sentence of 30 years for a non-violent first offender in a white collar case. The defendant argues that this sentence is unreasonable. The preliminary briefs are below:

Download final_11_cta_brief.pdf

Download appellee_brief_feb_28_06.pdf

Download mcfarland_reply_06.pdf

The parties also filed briefs in response to the Rita case. As noted in McFarland's supplemental brief -

"Ms. McFarland also has a young child and has lost her reputation in the legal community as well as in the general community. Her incarceration has been very difficult for her parents and young child. If President Bush is correct that Libby's sentence of 30 months is 'excessive' than surely Chalana McFarland's 360 month sentence is excessive as well, and should be reversed."

So here are the questions:

(1) If President Bush said that Scooter Libby's sentence was unreasonable, what do you think about this sentence?

(2) Was this sentence the outcome of electing to take advantage of the constitutional right to a jury trial vs. pleading?

I elected to plead guilty to my crimes and had the agreement with the U.S. Attorney as to the length of sentence according to the sentencing guidelines. Today, I share with businesses and associations that - Every Choice Has A Consequence.

But 30 years...Wow!

Any comments?

Post Katrina Bribery - Corruption Doesn't Pay Says Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher

Today a Grand Jury handed down an idictment against members of "The Scruggs Law Firm" for alleged bribery of Third Circut District Court Judge, Henry Lackey, of the State of Mississippi. According to the indictment Scruggs tried to bribe Judge Lackey with $40,000 to provide a favorable ruling on a case they were a party to.

To read the indictment see the following link:

Smart...real smart. How often do folks think that somehow there isn't a consequence to choices they make. Every Choice Has A Consequence!

As a business ethics speaker, I understand that fundamental law of the universe so well. I, too, felt that choices made could avoid consequences. Wrong! You cannot avoid the consequences of your choices and actions. You may not see them immediately and often the time between choices and consequences create the illusion that they don't exist. They do.

The story has all the trappings of a good John Grisham book. The problem is - the outcome will likely be prison...a place I've been and don't care to go again.

In my newest presentation, "The Truth About Consequeces," I explore with business groups the reality about the choices we make and the consequences - either positive or negative - that can follow. For information about that presentation, contact me at

Read the indictment and offer your comments here.

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher - signing off...

Monday, November 26, 2007

How Much Is Three Years in Federal Prison Worth?

While there are those who would disagree with me - I feel that there is no amount worth the pain of prison. Having been there myself, I speak from experience.

But the Department of Justice released today that the former president and owner of ATE Tel Solutions, Rafael G. Adame, will spend three years in prison following his conviction for his involvement in a scheme to defraud the federal E-Rate program. The E-Rate program subsidizes the provision of Internet access and telecommunications services, as well as internal computer and communications networks, to economically disadvantaged schools and libraries.

The news release is attached:

According to the news release, ” Adame was convicted of submitting fraudulent invoices for payment to the Schools and Libraries Division of USAC from December 2001 to May 2003. As a result of the scheme to defraud the E-Rate program, Adame fraudulently obtained $106,514 in payments from USAC.”

$106,000+ in theft = three years in federal prison? I don’t get it. But then again, I did something equally as dumb and paid the price. Adame will now come to know the lesson: Every Choice Has A Consequence.

As a business ethics speaker and Senior Sales Executive in a public company, I speak to groups nationwide about choices and consequences. In fact, my most recent presentation is entitled - The Truth About Consequences! While every choice has a consequence - the fact is we can determine whether the consequence is either negative or positive.

For information on Chuck's presentations visit his web site:

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Texas Motivation Speaker - Chuck Gallagher speaks on "Saving A Life! One Choice At A Time..."

Being stuck in traffic really stinks at times and this morning was no exception. I had just heard the radio play the commercial that I had made for a local company and recall the up coming news tickler. Planning to turn my radio off or switch to satellite radio, I heard something that peaked my interest - so I left it on that station just a bit longer.

The announcer, returning from a commercial break, began to share a story that so touched me, I elected to include it in my presentations - as it spoke clearly and innocently to the focus of every presentation I make - that being - Every Choice Has A Consequence.

It seems that a young man - actually better put a school kid - in the sixth grade was being acknowledged as the citizen of the week by this station in Dallas, TX. Now, Dallas isn't for a school kid to be the citizen of the week, well I just had to hear the story.

Seems that one fine morning the kids had gathered at lunch, just visiting with each other, when one of his buddies got choked on an orange slice. Now, for any of us who have been thing you can't do is ask for help - kinda hard when you can't breathe. When the kids noticed what was happening most of them gathered around just looking in disbelief. You can imagine the scene - one kid choking to death - as others gathered and watched.

But not our citizen of the week. He, without giving it a thought, jumped into the middle of the group, placed his arms around his buddy and did the Heimlich maneuver dislodging the orange slice and rescuing the choking victim. He seemed to think nothing of it - but I'm sure the kid he saved has a much different feel for the whole experience.

Faced with mounding publicity, this young man seemed to take it in stride. Of course his mother was beaming with pride as her son was recognized for his heroic action. The reported asked, "Just how did you learn how to do the Heimlich?" Without hesitation the boy answered, "Why watching the movies - of course!" Taken back his mother leaned over and asked, "What movie, sweetie?" With an almost indignant tone, he replied, "Mom...Mrs. Doubtfire! Don't you remember?"

The news anchor laughed and for once I enjoyed hearing something that created hope - good news on the radio.

Just today another story was reported out of Jacksonville, Florida.

This story was similar in content and in the feel good human interest side of the news. It's wonderful to talk about those choices in life that make a profound "life and death" difference. What makes them so interesting to that neither of those two kids woke up, got dressed for school, and on the way out the door told their parents, "You know I think I'll save someone today."

When others stepped back and refused to take action, these two people stepped forward and made choices - unanticipated choices - that saved lives.

That happened to me back in 1990 - I mean someone then entered my life quite unexpectedly and made a profound statement that was life changing. He said, as I was experiencing my "Dark night of the Soul," - "You made a mistake, but You are not that Mistake! The choices you make next will define who you really are and the legacy you will leave for your children." As I considered suicide that night, he, in a few simple words, made the choice to stick with me and help me clear away the fog and see clearly who I could become for the first time in a long time.

Today, as a Texas Motivational Speaker, I speak to groups nationwide about choices and consequences. These two youthful examples show the power that one choice can have - saving a life. What choices have you made that have made a difference to you or other peoples lives?

For information on presentations on the Power of One visit my web site:

Any comments?

Texas Motivational Speaker - Chuck Gallagher - signing off...

Multiple Guilty Pleas and 433 Months in Prison - And That's Just In Three Days!

Seems that it's been a busy week for guilty pleas and sentencing for Mortgage Fraud and related crimes.

Let's start from the beginning of the week. The multiple members of the Dorean Group were found guilty of multiple counts of various types of fraud in a scheme to eliminate client's debt. Their scheme involved creating mortgage and home equity fraud in order to obtain hundreds of thousands of dollars in home equity loans from unsuspecting lenders. The scheme covered investigations in California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington, Florida, Montana, Nevada, and Colorado. Their sentencing is set for March 18, 2008. Expect their sentence to be stiff - certainly not "Club Fed" for them.

Then theres Anthony Belletteiri, a real estate attorney, who was sentenced to 121 months in prison for his creative and elaborate scheme involving his law firms corporate and escrow bank accounts - using funds marked for real estate closings. Belletteiri also admitted that he stole approximately $2 million from a client, falsely telling the client that he had invested the client’s money in private mortgages. In order to conceal his theft, he created phoney mortgage documents, which he provided to the client, so that the client believed that his money was secured by mortgages, when it was not. This (former?) attorney was ordered to surrender to Federal prison on December 26, 2007 to begin serving his sentence. At least he got some grace in that he will be able to enjoy his last holiday season for a long while with his family - a small gift.

According to the Mortgage Fraud Blog (an excellent source for mortgage fraud information), Wesley Snyder, age 71, plead guilty to fraud for his mortgage scheme. The mortgage fraud blog reports, "Snyder defrauded more than 800 individuals throughout Central and Eastern Penn. via his “Wrap Around, Equity Slide Down Discount” Mortgage Program and his “Mortgage Participation” Investment Program. The charge carries a potential penalty of 30 years imprisonment and $1,000,000 fine." It would appear that once incarcerated he may never see freedom again in his lifetime. I am confident that once confined, he will have many nights sleeping on a thin prison mattress wondering if it was worth ending his life in confinement?

Bang the gavel drops and Matthew Bevan Cox, age 38, is sentenced to 26+ years. In the federal system, one must serve 85% of one's Matthew will be a little over 60 years old when he's released. Every choice has a consequence! In this case Mr. Cox made choices that will mean that, what is typically some of the most enjoyable and productive years of one's life will be spent in prison - working for 12 cents per hour. He and his girl friend ran mortgage and real estate scams that spanned several south eastern states.

"Cox will now be serving the long prison sentence he deserves for his crimes,” said United States Attorney David E. Nahmias in Atlanta. “While the subject of a nationwide manhunt, Cox repeatedly used the stolen identities of minor children, the homeless and others to place multiple fraudulent loans on the same property without the knowledge or consent of the true owners. His crimes resulted in clouded property titles in several states with years of unresolved litigation, a trail of over 100 victims, and millions of dollars in losses that cannot be recovered.”

“The Secret Service has taken an aggressive stance in the prevention and investigation of mortgage fraud and other forms of identity theft”, said James Byers, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service Atlanta Field Office. “This case shows both the wide-reaching effects of identity crimes as well as the importance of cooperation among law enforcement to focus resources and respond effectively to uncover and prevent this type of financial fraud.”

Every choice has a consequence. On a personal level I feel for the people mentioned above. Not to be mistaken, I do not in any way condone their crimes or actions - I don't. I just know that since every choice has a consequence, the price paid will be significant. Perhaps they will find, like I, that they can make their time in prison useful - either for themselves or for others.

As a business ethics speaker, I know first hand the pain of incarceration, as I've been there. I also know that no matter what someone might believe, you cannot escape the consequences of your choices. Likewise, if you make positive ethical moral choices the results can be quite remarkable. I, too, am living remarkable results.

For more information on presentations I make...feel free to visit my web site:

Any comments?

Texas Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher - signing off...

24 Months Can Seem Like A Lifetime!

One of the hot areas of fraud these days - one that you'll see a lot of attention paid to is - mortgage fraud. With the housing market slumping (crashing some would say) and the sub-prime mortgage wows being echoed far and wide, more and more you'll see reports like the one in this blog being reported.

According to the St. Louis Business Journal Bennie Clark was sentenced to 24 months in prison for his conviction on federal mortgage fraud charges. The full report is here:

It seems that Mr. Clark participated with others in a scheme to defraud mortgage lenders through a system of buying and selling properties at inflated prices. This is not new, but certainly capturing more media attention as we witness the housing collapse in many parts of the country.

Every choice has a consequence. This is the mantra that I speak on as a Business Ethics Speaker around the country. Having made poor business choices in my past (all be it 20+ years ago), I understand full well the consequences.

Some twelve years ago I spent time in federal prison as a consequence of my actions (something I am not proud of). While some call it "Club Fed" I can assure anyone who has not been there that it is no "club". It is federal prison - make no mistake.

Perhaps the unethical actions of those associated with World Wide Financial LLC will truly sink in as they have time (no pun intended) to truly grasp the concept of choices and consequences.

While I would never want to go back...once was enough to get the message - I learned many valuable lessons, not the least of which is - EVERY CHOICE HAS A CONSEQUENCE. The nice thing is - we get to enjoy the positive results that can come from positive ethical choices.

Your thoughts?

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher ( signing off...

Prison - What About My Safety? Yagman's Choices and Consequences

Stephen Yagman - recipient of the 2004 Clay awards for his outstanding achievements in Civil Rights Law was convicted of tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud in June of '07.

Claiming that he made enemies in law enforcement for his campaigns against police abuse, Yagman (through his attorney) argues that he should be spared an active prison term due to his fear he would be physically harmed in jail.

His story is stated here by the Associated Press:

Creative...I'll give him that. But I would be shocked if the Federal Government prosecutors would have any interest in Yagman avoiding an active prison sentence and instead - teaching at a university.

Here's a reality check - Yagman will find that his ego will be severely deflated upon entering prison. First, most of the inmates have no clue who he is and, frankly, won't care. For his crime he'll likely be sent to a minimum security prison.

Fact One, the inmates there are short timers and are anticipating getting out. They have no desire to do anything that will prolong their stay. So his safety is not an issue.

Fact Two, he'll likely be sent to a place where his enemies won't be. For example, he would likely be shipped to a federal minimum security facility out of state - fewer people who have any knowledge of his identity.

Fact Three, Yagman has shown from his conviction that he has a disregard for the law through his actions related to hiding assets in bankruptcy and from the IRS (tax evasion). Hence, it would be far reaching to think that the government would consider him a likely candidate to teach morality.

I know what Mr. Yagman is facing as I've spent time in Federal prison for tax evasion myself. I did not enjoy the experience. It was humbling to say the least. However, there are several things that I learned from my prison experience that were invaluable:

To learn about yourself - what and what you really are - after having all aspects of ego stripped away is priceless. Sometimes you might not like what you see or come to learn, but you do learn and from that have the opportunity to grow.

I learned that success was not in any way defined by the things that surround us - those are the things that feed our ego's. Rather, I learned that success comes truly from the impact you have on other people. My time in prison gave me the opportunity to come to know others and myself. It gave us all a chance to become real rather than to hide behind the illusion of who we project ourselves to be.

I learned that Every Choice Has A Consequence. Whether the consequence is negative or positive is up to you and the choices you make. You are in control of your choices and therefore the outcomes.

Finally, through a simple opportunity to speak to others about what not to do...I found my life's calling - speaking to others and sharing simple truths.

Perhaps Mr. Yagman will learn as I did about the truth of who he is and what true justice means. I wish him well and respect his fight...but over time, when ego identity is stripped away, perhaps he'll come to learn more that he could have ever taught.

Any commensts?

Business Ethics Speaker - Chuck Gallagher - signing off...

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thowing Assets to the Dogs! - Michael Vick's Continued Consequences

According to CNN - “In a motion filed in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson noted that Vick, in his plea agreement, agreed to pay “restitution for the full amount of the costs associated with the disposition of all dogs” in the case.”

Today the government asked a federal court to hold a portion of Michael Vick’s assets valued at more than $900,000 to be used to pay for the care and/or disposition of the 54 dogs found on Vick’s property when he was busted last spring.

For a full report of the CNN story see

Again, according to CNN, “Vick agreed that those costs could include “the long-term care and/or the humane euthanasia of some or all of those animals,” which were seized from the “Bad Newz Kennels” on his property in Surry County, Virginia.”

As an Ethics Speaker, I routinely speak to groups about Choices and Consequences. Every choice has a consequence. I, like Michael Vick, have enjoyed the benefits of good or even great choices and the agony of the negative consequences that can follow poor choices.

Michael Vick is (was) a talented NFL rising star. He developed himself and his skill to rise to national fame. However, the choices he made on his “shadow side” have had consequences that go far beyond what Vick might have ever considered. Perhaps when the dust settles and the consequences subside…Vick will use the experience to help others learn the sometimes painful lessons of choices and consequences.

Your thoughts?

Texas Motivational Speaker - Chuck Gallagher ( - Signing off…

Monday, November 19, 2007

Dumb and Dumber - Choices and Consequences from Prison

So let me get this straight, Mr. Van DeLaughter was being held at the Allred Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Iowa Park on five counts of theft, aggravated robbery and attempted aggravated kidnapping. Not a good place to be and not looking good for the home team home boy.

Hum…sitting there…thinking, “what should I do to get myself out of this mess?” O.K., I can buy that, it would be reasonable for anyone to try to better themselves - improve their lives - turn things around, if you will, and get a “get out of jail” card. I left out “free” cause, it takes some effort to get into jail and getting out certainly isn’t free.

“What to do…what to do,” he must have thought. “Ah. I think I’ll write a letter!” And write a letter he did. Now here’s where the story takes an unexpected twist.

U.S. Attorney Richard B. Roper, of the Northern District of Texas said, Alan Van DeLaughter, 36, was found guilty of mailing threats to damage or destroy property and another count of mailing threatening communication. A federal jury in Amarillo convicted Roper, a prison inmate, who made threats to a judge and the editor of the Dallas Morning News.

Every choice has a consequence. That is a message I deliver frequently as a Texas motivational speaker. But I must admit that most of time my audience is a bit (well O.K. a lot) brighter than Mr. Van DeLaughter. I would almost say that if there were to be a remake of the movie, “Dumb and Dumber” he might be a candidate for a part. Oops…I don’t think he’d be young enough considering the time he’ll have to spend in prison for that stunt.

For more information on the story from Amarillo see

Sentenced to 20 years (240 months) without parole, I guess Mr. Van DeLaughter made his point and sealed his fate.

I realize that I’ve been taking this light heartedly, but there might just be a deeper side to this beyond what is obvious. I’ll never forget one day during my brief stay in a Federal Half-Way House in Raleigh, NC. I had just finished my active sentence and was overjoyed to be able to take the next step forward - incarceration in a half-way house. It was a privilege and one that I was not about to screw up.

People came and went so you never got close to anyone. Some used the experience as a building block to future success and others acted as if they were victims - that somehow society owed them something. Their time was another step back into prison - at least it seemed so based on their actions.

But I’ll never forget this one guy who slept above me in the bunks we shared. He was three days away from total freedom. He elected to stay in prison so when he did get out he would not have to serve any probation time. I must admit I thought to myself, “What a dummy!” But to each his own. Some seemed to want to get out quickly and get on with life…and others - well they had a different perspective.

Anyway, this young man talked to me some (not much as he was a loner). But he talked enough for me to know that he was scared - scared of freedom. In prison he had shelter, clothing and food. On the outside (as he called it) he had to be responsible for those things for himself. Considering he’d been in prison since he was 18 and he was now going on 28, he didn’t know how to start making a life for himself.

I was so excited for him on the day of his release…I went to the half-way house manager to find out when he’d be free as I wanted to wish him well. What I was told shocked me.

“He’s back in,” they told me.

“What are you talking about. He’s to be released today.”

“Last night he held up a convenience store. They picked him up and he back in.” The folks at the half-way house stated this as if it was common place. “He’s back in!”

I was dumbfounded. After all this time with freedom just an open door away, why would he do that? Their next comment stopped me in my tacks.

“Yea…and guess what. It was armed robbery. Yep. He used his finger. He put his finger in his pocket and told the cashier that he would shoot her. He asked her for $20. She gave it to him. Then he gave it back and asked her to call the police. She did and he was arrested. Guess he just couldn’t figure out how to make it?”

As I think about Van DeLaughter and his letter…perhaps he, too, didn’t know how to make it. Perhaps prison was his way of living a safe, secure and structured life. Or, perhaps he was just dumb or dumber?

Texas Motivational Speaker - Chuck Gallagher signing off...

Texas Motivational Speaker - Gallagher - Reflects On Michael Vick's Incarceration

According to the U. S. Marshalls service, Michael Vick, former Atlanta Falcon’s quarterback, turned himself into authorities today to start serving a prison sentence for his conviction for running an illegal dogfighting ring. Vick turned himself in around noon and is being held at Northern Neck Regional Jail in Warsaw, Virginia, until his sentencing hearing scheduled for December 10th.

CNN reported the following shown in italics -

Vick pleaded guilty in August after three associates admitted their own roles in the operation and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.

“From the beginning, Mr. Vick has accepted responsibility for his actions and his self-surrender further demonstrates that acceptance,” Vick’s attorney, Billy Martin, said in a statement.

“Michael wants to again apologize to everyone who has been hurt in this matter and he thanks all of the people who have offered him and his family prayers and support during this time,” Martin’s statement said.

Don’t Miss

CNN Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin speculated that Vick started his sentence early “to get it out of the way.”

“Also, by surrendering before he’s sentenced on December 10, he shows a measure of remorse to the judge who will sentence him and I think he hopes will get a somewhat lesser sentence because the judge does have some discretion,”

With Vick now behind bars several questions loom:

(1) Will Vick’s voluntary reporting for his sentence sways the judges decision to show some mercy at his sentencing hearing?

(2) With Vick suspended indefinitely by the NFL, will his acceptance of responsibility soften the NFL’s stance toward Vicks return to football?

(3) When his sentence is complete, will Vick use the experience and his fame to positively influence the lives of those who have faithfully followed his career?

As a motivational speaker - I speak frequently to businesses, associations as well as colleges and universities on the subject of Ethics and Choices. Every choice has a consequence. Michael Vick enjoyed, what he felt was the sport of dog fighting. It is not my intent to debate whether that action was a sport or not. What ever I might believe, reality is - that action was illegal and Vick today gained a taste of reality as he faced the first night of his incarceration.

I remember my first night and I can say with clarity of mind…it was not fun - nor would I wish it for anyone. I wish Michael the best in his new found circumstances. Likewise, I hope he gains personal insight and the wisdom to use this experience not only for his own good, but the good that he can bring to others.

Every choice has a consequence.

Texas Motivational Speaker - Chuck Gallagher signing off…

Friday, November 16, 2007

To Tell The Truth - Barry Bonds - Ethical Choices and Consequences

So just how important is it to tell the truth?

As a motivational speaker, I was recently speaking to a group of high school students about the importance of telling the truth and making the right choices. What qualified me to make this presentation - personal experience…perhaps one of the best teachers in life. Having spent time in Federal prison for making unethical decisions, I know first hand the impact that choices have in our life. I am not proud of those decisions, but, likewise, refuse to hide the fact that I made them and that the impact they had on my life were - well - life changing.

As reported in the Wall Street Journal law blog, MLB’s home run hitter Barry Bonds has been indicted for - well simply put - “lying!”

The post in the WSJ Blog states: “Bonds joins a line of individuals stretching from Alger Hiss to Martha Stewart to Scooter Libby to who were indicted not for commiting an underlying crime, but for lying to investigators. Each time this happens, critics argue that a perjury prosecution is nothing more than an excuse for overzealous prosecutors to bring a headline-grabbing case against a boldfaced name. On the other hand, in pursuing such well-known figures, the feds hope to send a message to the meek and mighty alike: Don’t lie.”

I couldn’t agree more. Whether Bonds is convicted like Martha Stewart or not…the fact remains that the consequences of lying can have dramatic, life-changing effects. Take it from one who knows, “Club Fed” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It’s prison and no one I know wants to be there.

I routinely speak to business groups and associations on ethics, choices, consequences and their total effect. Every choice has a consequence - and the sooner we recognize that telling the truth is a choice the quicker we control the type of consequences we face. I personally perfer ”positive results” from the choices I make.

What about you? Comments?

Barry Bonds Image from the Wall Street Journal Law Blog

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

There's No Such Thing As Business Ethics - Yea Right!

I’ve heard that statement, “There’s no such thing as business ethics!” said way too many times. The arguement is that businesses don’t have ethics - people do. Therefore, there is no such thing as business ethics.

As a motivational speaker addressing corporations and associations on business ethics from coast to coast - my response is - Bull!

If that is true (there is no such thing as business ethics) then the appeal by Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling of his 24+ year prison sentence is doomed. Seems that Skilling and his legal team are relying (in part) on the Fifth Circuit’s decision in U.S. v. Brown that limited the “right of honest services” theory when the defendant believes he or she is acting in the corporation’s best interest as defined by management. In simple terms, if the corporate employee is acting in the corporations best interest or under the direction of management, then they can’t be guilt of “fraud”.

According the the White Collar Crime Prof Blog ( ”The government argues that Brown does not apply because it is limited to lower-level employees and not a CEO who it describes as the leader of the fraud. The problem with that argument, however, is that Brown does not seem to create a “CEO exception” to its analysis of the applicability of honest services fraud theory in a private setting in which the company is the victim of the fraud.”

There are numerous legal issues at play and not the prime subject of this blog. Rather, in laymans terms…Skilling was found guilty of (simply put) unethical conduct - fraud, consispracy, etc. Skilling was guilty because, as CEO, he acted in a manner that was unethical and costly to those who placed there confidence in he and Enron senior management.

Personal ethics only…? No such thing as business ethics?

Simply stated, looking at the complex legal arguements in Skilling’s appeal and the governments response - the arguement seems to strongly indicate that businesses have a legal existence and “soul.” If I’m acting at the direction of management then the “honest services fraud theory” would apply. Business ethics 101 as far as I can see.

After each Business Ethics keynote speech I give…there is at least one who just has to say that business ethics doesn’t exist. I do understand where they are coming from. Yet, most every business I encounter has a culture - a spirit if you will. And, that spirit, soul or corporate culture is the foundation of that enterprises - business ethics.

Not only is there business ethics - but it is now, as best as I can see, becoming part of legal defense against fraud, etc.

Interesting. Your opinion?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Ministry Accountability - What Do Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland and Eddie Long Have In Common?

In an age of increased corporate accountability under the Sarbanes-Oxley rules, it seems that Senator Chuck Grassley, ranking member of the p0werful Senate Finance Committee, is seeking detailed information from six major ministries concerning the application and use of their members contributions.

From his news release on November 6th the following is stated: “Grassley has reviewed a wide range of non-profit issues over the last five years, first as Finance Committee chairman and now as ranking member. The committee has exclusive Senate jurisdiction over federal tax policy, including the policy governing the billions of dollars donated to and controlled by the nation’s tax-exempt groups.”

He goes further to say, “I’m following up on complaints from the public and news coverage regarding certain practices at six ministries,” Grassley said. “The allegations involve governing boards that aren’t independent and allow generous salaries and housing allowances and amenities such as private jets and Rolls Royces. I don’t want to conclude that there’s a problem, but I have an obligation to donors and the taxpayers to find out more. People who donated should have their money spent as intended and in adherence with the tax code.”

What do you think about Senator Grassley’s request? Do you feel that prosperity enjoyed by church leaders is unethical? Should the Government be involved in the affairs of the Church? Are these individuals being singled out or is there a broader issue at play?

Every choice has a consequence. Is it possible that opulent prosperity can go too far?
To read the news release see:

What do you think?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Working and Ethics in America

From a recent blog I read I share the following and ask you to comment on your perception of “work ethics”:

I recently read a newspaper article on attitudes towards work.

America: The more you worked, the more you billed, and more the profit you generated for yourself and your company.

France: The fewer hours you work, the more vacation you take, more the time you get to grumble about the state of the universe, and smarter you feel.

Australia: On Mondays, they would talk on how they enjoyed the just-ended weekend; on Thursdays, the talk would be on what one would do on the coming weekend; on Friday afternoons they would not be any talk as they are already driving off to the nearest beach or hill ranges.

Urban India: When I meet software professionals, I see that the talk is like as in America – billings and profits. While attitudes of work are seen in some other areas of businesses, most others exude a chalta hai attitude; anything will do; performance and good work be damned !

The question for this blog is not about other countries, but more about what you think.

What does “work ethics” mean to you?

Is it more “ethically” sound to achieve your personal goals or to achieve the goals of the employer?

Is it possible to meet both?

Has the strong focus on business performance in America helped or hurt our country?

Feel free to respond- the commentary should be interesting!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Earnings Pressure - Business Ethics - Consequences

According to the US Attorney for the Southern District of NY - Paul Humphreys, former CFO for Safety-Kleen, was sentenced to 70 months in prison for securities and bank fraud.

It seems that Mr. Humphreys was convicted for his role in manipulating Safety-Kleen’s financial statements. The indictment alleges that this was a fraud designed to help Safety-Kleen meet earnings targets projected for the completion of a merger with Rollins Environmental Services.

“Approximately eight to ten business days following the close of each quarter, senior management held operations conference calls with representatives of various field offices to discuss the quarterly results and compare them with budgeted and/or prior year results. Thereafter, HUMPHREYS met with one or more co-conspirators, informed them of a higher “target” earnings number which HUMPHREYS wanted the company to publicly report.”

70 months!

He’ll serve a 60 month active sentence in Federal Prison - almost 10% of his life will be spent there. And all done in order to make a company meet projections. Wonder if today he would say that was a good investment of his time and energy?

As a motivational speaker on Business Ethics I hear people say so often, “There’s no such thing as business ethics.” Frankly I want to look them in the eye and ask them what planet they’re from. “No. NO,” they’ll say. “People have ethics not businesses.”

Well that’s true. People do have ethics. But, I’ll submit to anyone reading that most people are, in fact, ethical. We know right from wrong and how to apply ethical principles. Yet, I went to prison. (Not something that I’m proud of, but a fact none-the-less). I was not inherently unethical. And, I would bet neither was Mr. Humphreys. Rather, we both fell into similar traps. We had a need. We had an opportunity. And we could rationalize our behavior. Perfect circumstances for bad choices and even worse consequences.

Every choice has a consequence! Mr. Humphreys is soon to experience the continuation of his - and he won’t like it - not one little bit.

I speak to groups all over the US about business ethics - choices and consequences. I know first hand what Mr. Humphrey’s will face. I also know how to break the chains that can bid us.
What prison are you in? How have your choices brought about life changing consequences? And what do you think about business ethics?

Choices, Consequences, Humor (?) and E-mail

There are some folks you just can please. Makes no difference what you do or how you do it, it seems you just can win. And those are often the folks that provide the greatest lesson. Often those are lessons we need but least desire!

Take for example a customer I recently had the opportunity to work with. Seems that nothing the folks in our sales and service department did, could provide satisfaction. Every time I would hear this customers name I kept hearing in my head the old Rolling Stones song, “I can’t get no satisfaction!”

No one could please him and as one might expect…the less he was satisfied the more he wanted to take his request to higher authorities. Well the buck’s gotta stop with someone…and in this case it was me. So I did what any good sales executive would do…I listened - and listened - and listened. And no matter what solutions were offered - it wasn’t good enough.

Demanding - probably a minor understatement, but at least the communication was via e-mail (at least most of it). I was the conduit between our customer and our supplier and it seemed with the completion of each request - more demands were made. Either I couldn’t give him what he wanted when he wanted it or the supplier could get his requests done correctly or timely enough.

The frustration was increasing with each passing day. More importantly, I thought, I’m spending way to much time on someone who doesn’t seem to appreciate my service or effort. And more demands!

Lesson: Watch what you put in an e-mail - because Every choice has a consequence!

I was frustrated with the customer, he with me and the supplier with both - and yet the supplier still hadn’t complied with the customer’s last request.

So out of a moment of anguish…I e-mailed the supplier and stated the following:

Guys…I know it seems I’m bugging you, but this guy (referring to the customer) would drive Jesus crazy. Can you please send me what he’s requested so I can get him off my back?

You have no idea how happy I was to find an e-mail in my in box with the customers request met from the supplier. “Finally!” I thought. “Now I can get him off my back!” And then I did what seemed to make perfect sense at the time.

Any readers want to guess what that might have been? What choice did ole Chuck make? Yep, you’re right - I forwarded the response to the customer. I was so pleased to provide him what he wanted…I just sent the response forward.

Think about it. Absorb it. Let it really sink in. Then please…feel complete permission to laugh. Although, I can assure you it was no laughing matter.

Keep in mind, every choice has a consequence.

As I traveled home that day I was alerted to a message on my cell phone. Not being able to take the call when it came in…I retrieved the message only to find my entire demeanor change.

“This is (name deleted to protect the innocent customer) and, Mr. Gallagher, I wanted to call and let you know that I just got off the phone with your boss explaining to him my dissatisfaction with the service I’ve received - especially your comment that I would ‘drive Jesus crazy’!”

The rest of the story - well that isn’t relevant to this blog. What is relevant is the use of e-mail and the consequences that can follow from unintended thoughts sealed in fate when you hit the “send” button. In the White Collar Crime Prof Blog the following is stated: “The ’send’ button — together with its evil cousins, ‘forward’ and ‘reply all’ — are causing a world of trouble for corporations as they connect to evidence in legal proceedings and create a new mess for in-house lawyers to clean up.”

Fortunately, for all involved, my mess was cleaned up by profuse apologies and extraordinary service to follow. It was not a legal issue, but e-mails certainly can be.

Issues related to frustration with employees can rear their ugly head in a wrongful dismissal suit. Or, e-mails between employees who (for a time) are fond with each other can become the foundation for a sexual harassment suit. Name it and an e-mail can be either wonderful evidence to prove an issue or become a disaster upon discovery.

Morale to the story: Keep your personal thoughts personal…cause anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Don’t forget - Every Choice Has A Consequence.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Genarlow Wilson - Choices and Consequences!

Every CHOICE has a consequence! Just ask Genarlow Wilson. Freed on October 26, 2007 after spending more than two years in Georgia State prison for a teen sex conviction, Genarlow became a "lighting rod" for Choices, Change and Consequences on many fronts.

According to CNN, "Wilson was an honor student, a football star and his high school's homecoming king before his conviction. At the time of Wilson's conviction, Georgia law made the crime punishable by 10 years in prison. Changes in the law made such conduct "punishable by no more than a year in prison and no sex offender registration," the Georgia high court noted. But those changes were not made retroactive, so they did not apply to Wilson."

But, beyond the inequity of Genarlow's sentence, a larger question exists: What will Genarlow Wilson do to benefit others from his experience?

Genarlow stated upon release, "I got a new life."

Certainly, his sentence and incarceration has caused a law to be changed in Georgia. One could say that is good. But beyond that, Genarlow is an example of a simple, yet profound, principle: Every choice has a consequence.

As a motivational keynote speaker, I make presentations to young people frequently about Choices and their consequences. The responses I receive are sometimes troubling.

The formal part of the presentation I was making to young people at a high school had just finished, when I asked the group if they had any questions. One girl lifted her hand nervously and then asked, “What did your children think about their daddy going to prison?” That question caused me to pause. The consequences of my choices were devastating. My marriage was destroyed. My career was over. My assets were gone. Facing prison – well that was rock bottom. The “somebody” that I was once known as had changed to being the “somebody” that few wanted to know. All that said, the one thing that did survive, by the grace of God, was the love of my two sons. They were both old enough to understand what I had done and what was happening. And, I made a commitment that I would tell them the whole truth. I may have made serious mistakes, but I was not a mistake and had no intention to continue that process. If any good would come from this, my sons would understand that every choice has a consequence. I was living proof.

As soon as I finished my answer, out of the back of the room a young man blurted out, “You're not dishonest, if you don’t get caught!”

I was stunned.

As a motivational speaker and founder of the Choices Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing the message of choices and consequences to young people, I had just finished a presentation that clearly and unequivocally said there is a consequence. Wobbled, stunned, I’m not really sure what I felt. What I do recall is the reaction that I saw and heard from the kids. A few looked shocked by this young man’s statement – a look of disbelief at what they had just heard. Others, although a small number, just giggled. It was as if this small, yet vocal, minority were testing me and the message I had just delivered. One thing was for sure, there was silence that followed as the group awaited a response.

The opinion that this young man had the courage to share is not that uncommon among adult audiences. The only difference is – they don’t state it out loud – they demonstrate it through their actions. And, since every choice has a consequence, they will reap what they sow. It’s the law of reciprocity in action – a universal law that we all must live by – and one many think does not exist.

No one is exempt from the law and the law does not discriminate based on age. Yet, young people are often misguided into believing that they can get by without getting caught. In fact, recent studies, concerning the ethical attitudes of youth, indicates that the majority of young people would make unethical choices if they felt they could “get ahead” as a result. Success at all costs seems to be a common theme.

As former inmate from Federal prison, today I share with business executives and young people that simple message: Every choice has a consequence.

I am pleased beyond belief that Genarlow is now getting the taste of freedom again. Genarlow's plight, has helped other young people evaluate the power of their seemingly simple choices. As the founder of the Choices Foundation, perhaps Genarlow would consider stepping up and helping others understand the power of choice.

After all...Every Choice has a Consequence.