Occasionally, a simple news article written the right way sends a message far greater than its words. In the piece I have attached below, Sarasota Herald Tribune writer Mike Braga documents the change of plea of one John Yanchek, a prominent Tampa attorney who had been in the center of a major criminal federal fraud prosecution.
Yesterday, John Yanchek told a court that he repeatedly lied to banks to help his clients get loans that reportedly totaled some $83 million. He thus confessed and pleaded guilty to conspiracy, money laundering and making false statements to a bank.
"I didn't know at the time I was committing a crime," Yanchek, claimed, “I'm not a criminal attorney. I thought I was assisting my client to get loans closed."
He tried that sob song at trial too. He said he was simply “following orders.” Now where have we heard that line before? This was no babe in the woods, just out of school. He was a sophisticated, 49 year old seasoned attorney, and sadly, because of greed and avarice, not ignorance, he went down.
The person I feel sorry for is the kid he pled guilty with, that became the underlying message of the Mike Braga news article. Mr. Braga wrote two articles here, one relating a change of plea for a rich lawyer, the other relating how there are incredible inequities which permeate the criminal justice system.
Here you go:
"Sitting at the adjoining table to Yanchek's on the 12th floor of the federal courthouse in Tampa was Rashad Bryant, a 22-year-old Sarasota resident with a 10th grade education who was pleading guilty to dealing crack cocaine within 1,000 feet of Booker High School.
Unlike Yanchek, who graduated from Temple University Law School and has spent more than 20 years in his chosen profession, Bryant faces a minimum of 10 years in prison and a maximum of life behind bars.
The nine grams of crack that he tossed from his pocket during a police chase had a likely street value of about $500. Yanchek's cut of the proceeds from mortgage fraud, according to his plea agreement, was $7.6 million.
McCoun bounced back and forth from Bryant to Yanchek with questions and statements throughout the hearing.
In the end, he asked them both if they were sure they wanted to plead guilty and both responded in the same way."It is in my best interest to plead guilty," both men said."
Florida. The rules are different here.