Here's The Nightmarish Conditions Raj And Other Fraudsters Are About To Face As They Head To Prison

raj rajaratnam trial

Photo: Katya Wachtel for Business Insider

Next month, on July 29, Raj Rajaratnam, the former head of Galleon Group, will be sentenced for Insider Trading/Securities Fraud. In the weeks and months afterward, former SAC traders Donald Longeuil and Noah Freeman will also face sentencing for the same crime. As their last days of freedom come to an end, here’s what they’re probably thinking — I know because I was once in their shoes.Four years ago next week, on June 22, I was also sentenced for securities fraud in the Manhattan Supreme Court — the exact same place where all of these guys (and Dominique Strauss) have been. I was sentenced to 2 1/3rd to 7 years, and ended up serving 13 months.

I spent that time writing each and every day, recording what I saw, experienced, and felt from the day of my sentencing until the day I was released. It’s all in my recently published book, “My Road Home.”

More than an anything, you find yourself in a semi-state of shock, spending each day looking around at all the many things you’ve taken for granted your entire life, because shortly, they will no longer be available. You try to get the most out of each day — you don’t want to go off to bed, there will be plenty of time for that later. If you have children, you saviour each and every moment in their company. You’ll want time to stand still, so you can bottle these remaining days and weeks together. You’ll want to be outside as much as possible, soaking in the fresh air and sunshine, looking up at the blue sky and the green grass. Once behind prison walls, there is no such thing as “just walking outside.”

Most likely at the start you will be confined to your cell 23 hours a day. New inmates get very few privileges and most of your first few weeks you involve psychological testing, seeing counselors, filling out paperwork, and attending countless orientation programs. Only after all that crap, do you finally get some extra hours for Rec.

Raj and the others should be sure to visit the dentist and their personal Dr.’s before they go to prison.  I spent 11 months at a Medium security prison, Mohawk Correctional Facility and the first thing I was told to do upon arriving was make an appointment with the Dentist. I immediately did, but had to wait seven months before he could see me. And there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.

Don’t make the rookie mistakes I made; familiarise yourself with what can and can’t be sent to you while you’re away. Certain colours (red, orange, black) are forbidden as they are considered gang colours. No clothes may have a logo, like a Nike swoosh. And they can only be one solid colour, no stripes. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to be told by a guard that yes your family sent you a package, but you can’t have it.

On the day you have to report for your sentencing it’s surreal. You look around realising this will be your last day of freedom, your last day of being able to do whatever you want. In a matter of hours there is no such thing as privacy, and you will have no choice but to get along your fellow inmates, whether they be murderers, rapists, or kidnappers……as all of my cell mates were.

As you walk up the court house steps you tell yourself to be strong, that in order to get through this, you have to go through this. Having support from loved ones (as I’m sure these guys do) makes it all so much easier, their love will keep you focused, they will be the reason you survive. Be prepared to be lonely, sad, and depressed. You’ll be angry too, mostly at yourself for screwing up the good life you had, then ending up in a place like this.

On my first day in prison I was pulled aside by Willie P, a double murderer down for 25 years of a life sentence. He said very simply, “you do you, and I do me.”  In other words, at the end of the day, once inside prison, you have only yourself to count on. 

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