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Let's Miss This Golden Opportunity

By Chuck Armsbury, Senior Editor

Prisoner of the drug war Richard Garin's letter smoked with righteous rage on a subject we've been covering -- social and economic consequences of the criminal justice informant system. One consequence Garin deplores is the growth of consulting/service businesses that take advantage of laws allowing defendants to obtain sentence reductions.

Richard sent along some copies of services provided by Bill Golden, Virginia's Businessman of the Year for 2003-04. Though not an attorney, Mr. Golden is in the legal business of facilitating "sentence reductions and third party cooperation on a client's behalf." Quotes referring to Golden can be found at his website:

Golden is paid money for helping arrange for a third party (other persons) to "cooperate in the criminal defendant's behalf while the defendant receives the credit for a sentence reduction." And money he does charge, and apparently receives.

If you're an attorney with a client who can afford Golden, then for $25,000 to $150,000 "Golden's Complete Cooperation and Network Service may assist you in providing third parties to cooperate in your client's behalf." "Creative payment arrangements" may be available.

This is an up front business enterprise intimately dependent on the continued operation of conspiracy laws, standard law enforcement policies, and lots of snitching. No bones about it, Mr. Bill Golden is a success at what he does. Golden Services points to downward departures for 6023 drug traffickers who provided substantial assistance to the government in fiscal year 2001, about two-thirds of all 5K1.1 cases that year.

It's a swamp of ambiguity reading through Golden's disclaimers, but he insists that "Getting Started is Easy." Better hurry, though, because he only accepts "a limited number of clients per year in order to greatly enhance the probability of success for each client."

Another Golden, Kevin, writes "if you don't retain GOLDEN now, then someone else will, and they may get the cooperation and sentence reduction instead of you." So there.

Drug war prisoner Susan Spry also fumed in a letter to our office about people who charge money for locating willing third-party snitches. "What I find so horrific is that it is the government which is the proponent of this systematic procedure, and the officials continue to propagate this mercenary opportunity by skirting our due process safeguards in their legislative and court rulings.

"I realize that, in addition to being immoral and unlawful, this stratagem, The Federal Sentencing Guidelines, breeds golden opportunities for financial reward by promoting and rewarding betrayal."

Spry took her mailed solicitation from Golden Cooperation Services, LLC, to investigators in a federal prison who eventually reported (she asks, "Can you snitch on a snitch?") the communication to "the Virginia Bar Association." Susan said she "was informed that a copy of the material was forwarded to the Bar, and that they were very interested."

Wealthy individuals have historically found ways to buy their way out of required military service, paying poor people to fight in their place. Similarly, "With enough money, and no conscience, one can buy their very own 'get out of jail free' card," concluded Spry.

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