TV crime shows and Hollywood prison movies, popular for decades, rarely inform the public of what it means to be incarcerated in a federal prison. As a person with no criminal record of any kind before being convicted of bribery in 2020, Greg Lindberg learned the hard way that the average person doesn’t stand much of a chance in the current federal system.
While spending almost two years at Federal Prison Camp Montgomery in Alabama, Lindberg encountered one prisoner after another who accepted a plea deal, only to be betrayed as prosecution promises were ignored by the sentencing judge.
The founder of a worldwide company, Lindberg could afford to take his case to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court vacated his sentences in 2022, but no other inmate he met at FPC Montgomery had millions of dollars to spend achieving justice.
“Being inside a federal prison,” he says, “you get a very good idea of how the justice system really works. You discover things you would never know otherwise. This information is not available anywhere online. This is a true reality from inside the federal prison system.”
One inmate in particular was a tragic case to Lindberg, standing out from dozens of prisoners with all too similar stories. In a new video chat, he doesn’t name the man, but the specific details are a caution to anyone being offered promises by prosecutors.
“He was a wonderful young gentleman,” Lindberg relates. “Forty years old. He reported to FPC Montgomery during my time there. He was in some kind of securities transaction, some kind of S-1 question, a very minor issue. I read his docket. Very straightforward.”
(S-1 refers to SEC Form S-1, the initial registration form for new securities.)
Lindberg learned that the man decided to take a plea because his lawyer said he would get probation, and the prosecutor on the case guaranteed him probation. The problem was, neither of them had the final say in the case.
“The judges in this country in the federal court system are the ones that determine the sentencing,” Lindberg says with regret. “And the judge hammered him. The judge said, I don’t like people like you.” The man who was promised probation got a 78-month sentence. “So, he was absolutely devastated. His life was totally ruined. He had told everyone this is a little securities thing, I just took a plea and I got probation, don’t worry about it.”
The man had a new wife whom he had calmed with the promises his own lawyer and the prosecution had shared. From feeling hopeful for a future of probation and a lesson learned, the man went into prison feeling his life was over.
“He got to FPC Montgomery and he was a total mess,” Lindberg says. “And then his only option after taking a plea was to fight the Bureau of Prisons, and you can’t fight the BOP. Good luck with the BOP. Their mandate is to house prisoners, you know.
“You need to fight your case. And he couldn’t fight his case any more. So that man unfortunately was going to be down for probably about 60 months, the whole nine yards, really a shame. Beautiful human being, great heart.”
In contrast, Greg Lindberg went into prison determined to “get better, not bitter” and, relieved of the constant pressures of running an international company, he underwent a remarkable personal transformation through intense work on health and personal improvement. His fellow prisoner went in the opposite direction.
“The epitaph of the story is, he started rattling the staff at FPC Montgomery. You start rattling the staff at a prison camp, that’s not good. He got shipped up to a place behind the wire, a much more difficult environment. He was going to do 60 months of hard time.”
“Behind the wire” refers to razor wire around “hard time” prisons that don’t have a lack of fences like the federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama. Imagine this newly-married man, promised probation then denied it by a judge who “didn’t like people like you.” Going into prison depressed and angry might be expected, but in the current justice system, that type of resistance could end up in a horrible existence.
Stories like this are why Greg Lindberg is devoting his life to fighting for change in the courts. As stated on his personal website, in 2020 he founded Interrogating Justice, “a nonprofit organization whose mission is to bring awareness and help advance solutions that hold corrupt government actors accountable.”
There is currently a petition being circulated to reinstate federal parole in cases like that of Lindberg’s fellow prisoner. The Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 abolished federal parole for all federal inmates. This fact makes it more understandable why the man Lindberg encountered broke down mentally when he went into confinement.
With regard to that unfortunate man, Lindberg cautions anyone facing a similar dilemma. “That’s a lesson to learn. The prosecutors, they are all gonna sell you a song. Your lawyers are gonna sell you a song. Fight. Preserve what you believe is right. Preserve your integrity, preserve your own word, your own commitment to yourself.”
Lindberg’s book 633 Days Inside: Lessons on Life & Leadership can be found on Amazon and a myriad of other major outlets. Through his website www.greglindberg.com he will make digital copies available to any currently incarcerated inmate or their family member. His company, Global Growth, has a stated policy of not turning away potential employees because of a criminal conviction.
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