I am a professional speaker with a passion for spreading the word about ethics. Primarily, I help individuals and organizations improve their ethical decision-making abilities. My key speech is titled “A Cautionary Tale: Limit Your Risks by Decoding the Ethics Enigma.” This topic can be presented as a keynote or workshop. I also have an inspirational keynote titled “From Adversity to Authenticity” that is an excellent opening or closing speech for a conference.
In addition to speaking, I am an author, blogger and an incarceration consultant. As an incarceration consultant, I help others who are about to enter prison to prepare for and navigate, a very difficult time in their lives. My “Decoding the Ethics Enigma” book will be published by Balboa Press in Spring 2018. My blog “Butner Prison Diary” is about my own experiences in prison, and to some extent, my personal and spiritual transformation. My second book draws my story and transformation into the archetype of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. No publishing date has been established for this book yet.
My Earlier Career:
My career began in accounting and finance, and then I moved on to real estate in 1987. Some of my early employers included Peat, Marwick & Mitchell (now KPMG Peat Marwick), Dr Pepper and Marcus & Millichap. I joined a newly-formed real estate venture known as Peerless Real Estate Services, Inc as its Executive Vice President/Finance in 2004. I was with Peerless until the collapse of the company in May 2007.
The company failed because the North Carolina Attorney General’s office and the U.S. Attorney in Charlotte alleged that one of the company’s development projects was set-up as a Ponzi scheme. Six people associated with the company, including myself, pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges rather than face trial. It was a painful decision on my part to plead guilty. I was primarily responsible for managing the group’s 1,100 apartment units and other income-producing properties, sourcing institutional financing for the company’s real estate projects and conducting due diligence for new development opportunities – and not involved with this particular development.
Health Problems Sent Me to Butner:
I have a very serious heart disease known as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia (ARVD), whose first typical symptom is sudden death. Quite frankly, I am very lucky to be alive after experiencing numerous bouts of ventricular tachycardia and fibrillation and some near-death experiences. My heart condition is treated with drugs and an implantable cardiac defibrillator (ICD). The Bureau of Prisons sent me to Butner, NC because of my heart issues. The Butner Correctional Complex includes a Federal Medical Center. Federal inmates with serious and chronic illnesses are sent to facilities that can best handle their medical needs, appropriate for their security level and convenient to home. In my case, Butner was the closest camp with a medical center so I was sent there.
I was treated with a drug called amioderone, a very powerful anti-arrhythmic that requires constant monitoring. The Butner medical staff did a very poor job of treating my heart issues and the side effects of the drug multiplied during my incarceration. The biggest noticeable side effect is the discoloration of my skin to blue which is noticeable in some of the pictures. My cardiologist discontinued my amioderone and put me on another antiarrhythmic drug that has been equally effective. In 2016, I went through a series of laser treatments to rid my skin of the blue crystals causing the skin discoloration. My skin now looks much more normal than it has in many years.
The Spiritual Journey:
After nearly dying several times due to my heart disease and then experiencing the humiliation and pitfalls of incarceration, I spent a lot of time asking, “why me?” “What was it about my life experience did I have to go through for the development of my soul?” “Why am I still alive and what can I share my experiences that can help others?”
I was very fortunate to participate in a “Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life” group study that set me on my spiritual path. The program transformed my life and I am very grateful for Dr. Frazer, my brothers in that program and the opportunity to read and watch great teachers and mentors such as Wayne Dyer, Abraham Hicks, Louise Hay, Joseph Campbell and so many others. I wish this program was available to all inmates at all institutions.
In the end, I found that I needed to be incarcerated to find my freedom – my spiritual freedom, that is. I have a clearer picture of what that means and I think my experience can speak to others. After all, my incarceration was a real physical experience for me but is also a metaphor for those imprisoned by negative factors in their lives such as a loss of any kind, addiction, bad marriages, a stuck career, etc. My second book addresses these questions. I am also available to speak to groups about the prison experience and its lessons.
Raised in the Detroit area, I am the oldest of nine children in a very tight-knit family. I am a summa cum laude graduate of Spring Hill College, Mobile, Alabama with a double major in accounting and history.
My wife Christine was born the youngest of four siblings in Munich, Germany. She moved to Atlanta with her parents at the age of three months, and then returned to Munich from ages eight to eighteen. She is a graduate of Emory University and has been a residential real estate agent for more than twenty-five years.
We reside in Atlanta with Watson and Cleo, our beloved Portuguese Water Dog and Toy Poodle. Christine and I were trained in our church’s Stephen Ministry program where we help others through difficult life transitions. I also volunteer at a local hospital where I get a lot of pleasure helping others.
Christine and I were married in July 2002 and are hopelessly devoted to each other. I am extremely grateful to her for sticking by me during these difficult years. She made some tremendous sacrifices over the years that she could have easily walked away from.