­

Russ Whitney' conviction for second degree robbery by John T. Reed 2 Sentence As I suspected, Whitney now admits he plea bargained for the sentence he got. He says the sentence was four years. I do not know if he is telling the truth. But even laymen are aware that plea bargains generally result in the number and/or seriousness of the charges being reduced in return for saving the prosecutors and taxpayers the expense and time of a trial. So if he plea bargained down to four years in prison for second-degree robbery, what the heck were the original charges? Also, doesn"t the sentence sound rather harsh if you believe Whitney' version? As far as I know, he has never publicly admitted to any other conviction. If that' the case, the judge was confronted with the following when deciding the sentence: "¢ juvenile "¢ first-time offender "¢ a mere companion to those who actually stole the money "¢ money taken from open cash register, not locked up "¢ no use or threat of violence "¢' no one injured "¢ agreed to a plea bargain How in the world would such a defendant get a four-year prison sentence and a Class C felony second-degree robbery conviction? To my layman' mind, his description of what happened makes it sound more like he should have gotten probation for misdemeanor disturbing the peace or petit larceny. The sentence he received suggests to me that his crime was more serious than he admits. I think we need to see the actual police and court documents. I would like to talk to the accomplices, public defender, arresting officer, and the victim. The crime may have been reported in a news story at the time. I do not know the actual date"”only that Whitney entered prison in Queens on August 30, 1974. Parole As noted at the Department of Corrections Web page about Whitney, he was paroled. What does that mean? According to Black' Law Dictionary, parole is release from jail after serving part of a sentence. Probation, in contrast, is release before serving any part of a sentence in jail. Parole is generally granted only to inmates who evidence good behavior during incarceration. In some cases, earning a G.E.D. or other similar certificate is a prerequisite to being paroled. The release is conditional, typically supervised by a parole or probation officer, and may be revoked if the conditions are not adhered to. Parole is granted by a parole board when it becomes convinced that there is a reasonable probability the prisoner will not violate laws while on parole. I do not know what the conditions of his parole were, but "Standard Conditions of Release for U.S. Code Offenders" are at

https://www.usdoj.gov/uspc/release.htm. Whitney was convicted of violating New York' code, not the U.S., but the conditions may be similar. "¢ periodic reporting to parole or probation officer "¢ remaining within a specified geographic area "¢ prompt reporting of any change of address "¢ prohibition against violating any law or associating with lawbreakers "¢ work regularly and report any change of employment within two days "¢ not get drunk on alcohol "¢ no use of illegal drugs at all "¢ no firearm possession "¢ make diligent effort to pay any restitution ordered at trial "¢ submit to any drug test ordered by probation officer New York State' current Parole Handbook is at https://parole.state.ny.us/parolehandbook.html. Some current conditions of parole include: "¢ not leave the State of New York "¢ notify parole officer any time I am arrested "¢ not be in the company of or fraternize with any criminal "¢ notify parole officer immediately of any change in residence, employment "¢ commit no felonies "¢ not possess any weapon "¢ not use illegal drugs or possess illegal drug paraphernalia Two events come to mind with regard to Whitney. He says he quit his job at Tobin Packing Co. in March of 1979. That would be the third anniversary of his release from prison and starting work at Tobin. He represents that he quit because he had become "financially independent" and hated his job. The fact that he was paroled and the anniversary timing of his quitting causes me to wonder if the third anniversary was simply the end of his parole period. In July of 2003, he publicly admitted that getting a job was, indeed, a condition of parole. The New York State Parole Handbook specifically mentions something called a "Three-Year Discharge." Also, see my interview with his stepmother about his becoming financially independent at age 23. The other issue is that he was arrested for leaving the scene of a personal injury accident on 11/17/80. Neither the police who arrested him nor the civil attorney who sued him for hitting the pedestrian knew anything about his being an ex-convict. I asked them both on 12/17/02. That suggests that he did not contact a parole officer to report his arrest. That could be because his parole period had ended and he was therefore no longer required to do that. What does it mean to be a convicted felon? Russ Whitney has been a convicted felon since he was 17 or 18. (Whitney' lawyers say that he was a minor when he committed the robbery and say he was homeless from age 15 and committed the robbery to support himself. I have not yet been able to ascertain what age he was when he committed the crime. I know he was not homeless from age 15 unless he ran away from his Reno aunt at that age.) There are a bunch of things that convicted felons may not do. They include: "¢ vote "¢ possess a firearm "¢ hold certain jobs "¢ parolees are generally not permitted to associate with convicted felons "¢ hold a federal license to make wine "¢ operate a pawnshop in certain jurisdictions "¢ be a member of the New York State police "¢ be governor of Arizona "¢ hold an interest in a Florida liquor license "¢ work for a licensed private investigator in Nevada "¢ serve in the military Although there is no definitive list, convicted felons are generally excluded from holding jobs related to their felony. In Whitney' case, his felony involved money and violence. I would expect that second degree robbers would generally be excluded from jobs that involved handling money, law enforcement, caring for children or helpless adults, and so forth. Why is Martha Stewart different from Russ Whitney? When Martha Stewart was convicted, the Newsweek cover story about it said, As a convicted felon, Martha faces a lifetime ban from serving as an executive or a director of a public company. So why is Russ Whitney the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Whitney Information Network, Inc., a public company? When you apply for many things, they ask on the application if you are a convicted felon. They include: "¢ job applications "¢ license applications "¢ coach an amateur athletic team on an unpaid volunteer basis "¢ apartment rental applications* * Whitney' own Real Estate Forms Book has a rental application which asks the question, "Have you or your spouse ever been convicted of a felony?" New York State real estate license law and felonies New York State real estate license law is Article 12-A Real Property Law. '§440a is pertinent. It says, No person shall be entitled to a license as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson under this article who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a felony or who has not subsequent to such conviction received executive pardon therefor or a certificate of good conduct from the parole board to remove the disability under this section because of such conviction. The current New York State real estate license application asks: 2. Have you ever been convicted in this state or elsewhere of any criminal offense that is a misdemeanor or a felony? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IF "YES," submit a written explanation giving the place, court jurisdiction, nature of the offense, sentence and/or other disposition. You must provide a copy of the accusatory instrument (e.g., indictment, criminal information or complaint and a Certificate of Disposition. If you possess or have received a Certificate of Relief from Disabilities, Certificate of Good Conduct or Executive Pardon, you must provide a copy of same.) 3. Are there any criminal charges (misdemeanors or felonies) pending against you in any court in this state or elsewhere? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . IF "YES," you must provide a copy of the accusatory instrument (e.g., indictment, criminal information or complaint.) Since Whitney says he got such a license, the implication is that either he got a certificate of good conduct from the parole board or he did not reveal his conviction to the state Division of Licensing services when he applied. I would appreciate any help anyone can offer in finding out which is the case. Whitney also says he had a Florida real estate license. Florida law does not specify that convicted felons may not hold a license, but it does say that only persons of "good character" may be licensed. I wonder if the Florida application form inquired about whether the applicant had been convicted of a felony when Whitney filled it out. In his July, 2003 statement, Whitney says he answered the Florida license applications questions truthfully. He implies that one was about felony convictions. He says he had to appear at a hearing of the Florida Real Estate Commission, presumably because he admitted to being a convicted felon on his application. He says he got the license, thereby indicating that the Commission determined that he was, indeed, a person of good character. I wonder if they would do so today if they received a file containing the Whitney facts revealed at this Web site. I also wonder if the Commission knew about the hit-and-run, Whitney involvement with the Confederation of Organized Purchasers, Inc., and Whitney' teenage adventures. Texas Certified Proprietary School According to SEC filings of Whitney Information Network, Inc., it is a Certified Proprietary School in Texas. I would be interested to hear from any readers knowledgeable about that certification whether it is available to corporations run by convicted felons. See my article on whether Whitney is complying with the Texas Proprietary School Act. Permanent label When I searched for the phrase "convicted felon" on Google to see what it' ramifications were, the vast majority of the hits were of a label attached to the name of various public figures. If you win a Nobel prize, you are forever after referred to as "Joe, Blow, Nobel Laureate." If you win a Pulitzer prize, you are forever after "Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Joe Doakes." And if you are convicted of a felony, you get the label, "Russ Whitney, convicted felon." One criminal defense lawyer Web site referred to it as a "social stigma." Whitney has not previously been called that because he managed to keep his felony conviction relatively secret. That' kind of hard to do if you fill out applications honestly. Did he say "yes" whenever he was asked if he had ever been convicted of a felony? The only time I know of is in a deposition in a lawsuit before he sued me. There, under oath, he did answer the question honestly. I read somewhere that he had been a Little League coach. Depending upon when that was and where, he may have been asked on the application about felony convictions. Generally, if you answer yes, you are disqualified. I do not know if he was asked, what he answered if he was, or what the policy of the local league was about letting felons coach children. I would appreciate it if someone would help me find out. Whitney lived in Cape Coral, FL or Fort Myers in the period when his children would have played youth sports. "˜Three strikes" laws Some states have laws that impose much stronger punishment on offenders with multiple felony convictions. It would appear that Whitney is at least one strike closer to triggering such a law. Not a secret In his July, 2003 public statement, Whitney denies that he kept his conviction a secret. Specifically, he says ""¦he has always answered questions about this issue honestly and openly and his family, friends, and associates have always been aware of this and other parts of his past." We need to parse his words carefully here. Note that he says he has always "answered questions about this issue." Of course, if you keep it secret, you never get such questions. He also says his "family, friends, and associates" knew about it. His stepmother never knew about it as of when I told her in May of 2003, and she was in communication with various other relatives of Whitney' over the years. I have never talked to any other Whitney family member to confirm his statement. I have talked to a number of his former friends. None of them knew about it until I revealed it. One guy told me there was a rumor that Whitney had been convicted of manslaughter for hitting a guy with a bottle in a bar. I never reported that because I never could find any confirmation. It now appears to be a garbled version of the robbery. Whitney denied the manslaughter conviction as preposterous in writing once, but he made no mention of the robbery conviction in that discussion, leaving the reader with the impression that the very idea that he could have committed a serious crime was ridiculous. "Friends and associates" could mean two of each. Furthermore, the friends could be limited to his fellow Coxsackie inmates. I do not know who the associates are, but I talked to a bunch of former Whitney associates before I located his prison record. Not a one said a word about the robbery. And they were not shy about telling me about other negative aspects of Russ Whitney. At his 2003 Worship Whitney Fest in Orlando, Whitney blurted out to the audience that he had been in prison for robbery. He prefaced the remarks with the statement, "I don"t know why I"m telling you this." I"ll have to ask him at his deposition exactly who the family, friends, and associates with whom always he discussed his robbery conviction were. As far as I can tell, it was an extremely tiny group if it existed at all. As I have related above, Russ Whitney omits or obfuscates the period of his life from 1970 to 1976. Whitney' big complaint about my talking about his felony conviction is that it was a long time ago. I have stated here exactly when he went to prison for it. I do not know when it occurred and he has chosen not to give the date in his public statement. My readers are capable to deciding whether to discount it because of how long ago it was. They do not need instruction from Whitney or me on that subject. I would make the general statement that a completely uncharacteristic, youthful conviction is probably not meaningful if it is followed by an exemplary life devoid of similar episodes. But that most certainly is not the case with Whitney. His entire life since around 12 years old is littered with various sordid misbehaviors and brushes with the law. Many of the negative facts revealed at this Web site involve present-day activities of Russ Whitney. Taking responsibility There is also the issue of taking responsibility for your actions. If Whitney wants us to believe that he is no longer the guy who was convicted of robbery, and that he should be forgiven for that, he needs to "¢ admit what he did "¢ take responsibility for it "¢ state forthrightly that what he did was wrong "¢ make amends to the victims of his various misbehaviors Has he done that? Not even close. Here is the closest he would go. His July, 2003 public statement says, "Whitney admits he was mixed up with the wrong crowd, had no money, and no parents to turn to when he got in trouble. Because he could not afford a private attorney, his case was handled by a public defender. The public defender told Whitney that if he did not plead guilty and accept a four-year sentence, the case would go to trial and he would be at risk of a much longer sentence." About the only thing Whitney admits to is being "mixed up with the wrong crowd." That' what mothers say when their kid gets caught in a serious crime. It is not what criminals say when they are taking responsibility for what they did. Admitting to having no money and no parent to turn to is not an admission. Those are excuses and pleas for sympathy. In other words, Whitney admits only to having been convicted and going to prison, but says it was not his fault. It was the fault of "¢ the wrong crowd "¢ having no money "¢ having no parent to turn to "¢ the public defender "¢ his wicked stepmother "¢ his lousy childhood The guy is now 47 and he still lacks the character to take responsibility for his various misbehaviors over the last 35 years. And he is still misbehaving as revealed at various pages at this Web site and at other Web sites to which I link (e.g., the Better Business Bureau). There was a scene in an old episode of the sitcom "Get Smart" where Agent Smart was talking to a convict who was about to get out of prison. Smart asked him what he planned to do. The convict said he was going to become a TV repairman. Disappointed, Smart asked, "Why don"tcha go straight?" If that episode of "Get Smart" were filmed today, the gag would work better if the convict said he was going to become a TV infomercial real estate guru. Copyright 2002, 2003 by John T. Reed Last update 7/14/03 John T. Reed, a.k.a. John Reed, Jack Reed, 342 Bryan Drive, Alamo, CA 94507, Voice: 925-820-7262, Fax: 925-820-1259, www.johntreed.com

Log in to comment
­