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Your Honor …

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The following are statements made by FCPA defendants immediately prior to being sentenced by a judge. (See here for a prior similar post).

Remorse. Regret. Shame.

Embarrassment, not only for themselves, but for their family and friends as well.

It’s all there the moment before a judge determines whether they lose their liberty and for how long.

***

“Your Honor, I would like to first thank the court for allowing me to stay out on bail during this case. Even though the past few years have been very difficult for me, it is better than being in jail. At the same time, I would like to thank the court and the government for allowing my family and friends to come visit. Your Honor, I want to apologize to the court for all the trouble my actions have caused. I alone am responsible for my actions. Looking back, I am filled with regret how I went to about trying to support the […]. Your Honor, I really believed that the […] would do great things for […] in the […]. Your Honor, I would ask for your mercy not only for myself, but more importantly, for my family. My wife is this year over 66 years’ old. Since my youngest son passed away when he was 19 years’ old, my wife’s health has been deteriorating. In the past 40 years, even though I was penniless, my wife never abandoned me through thick and thin and kept me a companion. Now that she is in her twilight years, she needs my companionship. I very much hope I can continue my responsibilities to her as a husband. It seems that since I have been arrested, especially after my conviction, my creditors have been pushing me for repayment. Interest has been piling up, the bank has closed my account, the previous business partners are shunning us. The business that I built over in the past decades is facing great difficulties. Since I have been allowed to stay out on bail, every day I spent a few hours every day to try to stabilize the business. If I go to jail, my children will bear my responsibilities. Even though they are very talented, but since I have been sheltered, I have always sheltered them in the — I have been protecting them and not to let them handle these responsibilities, I am very afraid that they will not be able to handle it and to bear these responsibilities, that the business would not survive. There are many employees who have been working for me and my company for decades because they trust me. I am also very afraid for the future, your Honor. I have eight granddaughters and grandsons. I miss them dearly. I very much want to go back to them, to greet them, to tell them stories, to play with them. I am very sorry for the pain and suffering I have caused my family, my friends and employees. I swear that I will never repeat my mistakes again. Your Honor, I sincerely wish that you could show leniency on me. My only wish is that I can return to my family as soon as possible instead of having my family to bring me home in ashes.”

***

“Even though I’m sitting at the courtroom today, my main concern is not what happens to me, but what would happen to my wife and children if I’m not around to take care of them. My wife started her Master’s degree recently, and she needs my support more than ever to watch our kids while she is gone. I worry about little things, like how messy our house will become, since I do most of the cleaning and household chores. I worry about my wife juggling school, home, and kids if I’m not around. The past three years have definitely been a huge learning experience. My bad judgment led to other bad judgments. I have lost many things that I valued and cherished because of that. All the things I’ve lost, I only have myself to blame. Most of all, I’m sorry to my family. And I promise that nothing like this will ever happen again to put my family in jeopardy. Thank you.”

***

“As I stand in front of you, and as I prepared for this moment, I have had great difficulty finding the words to say. How can one describe in a few short moments how it feels to have been spending the past 16 months? I have recently commenced my 40th year in the […] business, and I am the fourth generation of […] to be active in this profession, in this market. In 40 years, I have led a completely honorable, moral and ethical life and business career. There are times when there is much to deal with, when you find yourself in the middle of many potential deals. Things move quickly, decisions need to be made, and you are working with people with many different personalities, levels of experience, and skill sets. Many people say that […] is a world of sharp elbows and that […] is a dirty business. The majority of […] would probably choose to not share information if it meant jeopardizing a deal, but I have always believed in full disclosure and honesty in dealing with my clients and have walked the proper path and treated people the way I would want them to treat me. Throughout my career, I have always remained very focused on my family life and commitments. My wife and I have been married almost 37 years, and we will be celebrating our 40th anniversary of our first date, in May. She works as an occupational therapist, assisting special-needs kids, and she makes an enormous difference in their lives and the lives of their families. Excuse me. We have raised two great daughters together. They are the most important people in the world to me. And later this week our first granddaughter turns one-year-old. Contrary to what many people think, not all […] people make millions of dollars every year. I have had some pretty good years, but, unfortunately, I have also had my share of bad ones. I have never stopped trying to support my family even through those bad years. We have always found a way to provide. The economic downturn of 2008 and ‘9 came at a particularly bad time for me, as we were a couple of years into college for my older daughter. So, in order to get through this, we took on significant debt, always thinking that the next large deal would come in so we could pay that off. However, that large deal never came around, and this debt hangs over my head every day and over my wife’s. Recently I took a job that gives me a great deal of responsibility and a steady paycheck, enough that we can keep our heads above water until larger deals closed, with some long overdue luck. However, I’ve been so greatly affected by this situation I find myself in, I feel as though I have an enormous weight on my shoulders all the time and great shame and fear and sadness. Until today, only my wife and I know about this situation, and the other people in this room, and I have tried to protect the people I love most from worrying about me. Not my daughters, not my mother, not my boss, not my colleagues, and not my friends in the industry. During the day I find myself fighting off panic attacks or waves of sadness or anger at not taking the steps I should have taken to avoid the whole thing. At this point, I have been changed. I no longer trust people who I used to, and I have less patience with people. I am petrified that everything I’ve worked toward for 40 years could come crashing down because of one stupid mistake. It is no excuse but I feel that the company I have worked for would be sure to steer things properly and do the right thing. At the end of the day, I was left alone as the scapegoat, and I did not have the ability or resources to fight that. I have fought these last few months to continue to focus on creating business opportunities, and I feel I have a lot left to contribute to the city and to the industry I love, and to repay my debts, and to provide for a well-deserved retirement for my wife, and to make my family proud, but I am petrified of losing everything after this day. So all I can do is stand here before you and to ask that you forgive me for my horrible lapse of judgment and to not put my foot down when I knew I should, despite what the other parties wanted, both the brokers involved and the company I worked for. I vow to you, I will never make a mistake like this again. And I can only wish for the opportunity to finish my career with dignity and success so that my friends and family can be proud. Thank you.”

***

“Your Honor, thank you very much, first of all, for allowing me these few minutes to tell you something about my history, which began since 2016. I have always been a businessman since my graduation on 7 — on May 7, 1988, when I started working with my dad in a family company and I started as a sales supervisor and continued in my development until I became a general manager with 60 people under my supervision working six days a week. So I — on March 3rd, 1996, I married my wonderful wife, […] of 30 years and a very special person. On July 11th of ’93, we had a son, and on May 7th, when I was having a birthday, my daughter was born. In 2003, I made a decision to move to this country fleeing the insecurity and the political regime in Venezuela. To this day I’m convinced that was the best decision we ever made because our two children, […] and my daughter, currently are graduating from […]. We arrived here, and since 2003, have had several businesses where we have worked arduously. One of the first ones was a water bottling plant where we bottled water for very special clients with a private label. We sold this business in 2009 because this was a business that brought low income, and we had to work 10 hours a day, six days a week just to keep up the business. We then set up a company in 2010 to seek certain types of products for people or businesses in Venezuela, mainly for people who, due to age, time or work constraints, were not able to seek out these products for themselves. So our work with these companies was to negotiate the production of these products for those clients. Well, I then, at the same time, opened up a bicycle shop in Doral, a business that did not do very well and so we had to close shop within two years. But at the same time, it allowed me to make a lot of connections in the world of cycling and above all, to introduce my daughter, […] , as a cyclist in Florida. And I am proud to say that she has won two championships with Diabetes I, which makes it even more of a success, in my opinion. In 2016, we presented an offer for services to the Venezuelan government, to certain companies, and there was no mention or no negotiation of any commission until we came to the signing of the first contract. Your Honor, that’s when we made the huge mistake of accepting — really, we did not measure the — or foresee the consequences that this would bring in a country such as Venezuela, where in the entire region even to obtain a driver’s license, you have to pay something, not measuring what this would mean later on. So all this — and during all this time and every single time, Your Honor, I honored every contract providing excellent products. For example, the forklifts were Toyota brand; the generators were Cummings; the streetlamps were Phillips. And every time making good on every contract with what I’ve always done, which was to offer the very best. One of the things that brought me to this country in 2003 was the political situation in Venezuela because I have never been a political person or someone who belonged to any political parties. I’ve always been a businessman, one who made a bad decision. After all these years of hard work, I have harmed my career. I have harmed my reputation. I am very sorry for this decision that I made in mid-2019. I truly accept responsibility for that mistake. I really have learned my lesson. After these six months of witnessing my family suffering, of suffering, of seeing myself suffer, I guarantee that never again will I be before you as a defendant. I am before you, Your Honor, would like to ask — to apologize to my wife, to my friends, to my children, to my mother, to my entire family for this very shameful situation that they are having to undergo. And I only ask God for the wisdom to be able to go through it myself, that it may end as soon as possible, and I may go back to the way things were in 2016. I also would like to recognize how well I have been treating by this Government, by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, by […]. Also, by the DEA agents who never harassed me but treated me with the utmost professionalism, which also, I think, is what caused for me to be an open book and for this case — for me to be able to help them so that in three months the co-defendants were brought to justice. And I would like to underscore, once again, what I have already said to the DEA agents and that is that they can count on me until this case sees its end. And, lastly, Your Honor, I know that you have your guidelines to consider in making your decision as to my sentencing, but I would respectfully ask you on my behalf or — and on my family’s behalf that you be merciful in considering my sentence and your decisions. I know that I did wrong, but this is — this was a bad decision made in a business sense, in a commercial sense and that I ask you for a second chance, that all this darkness may be put behind me. Thank you.”

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