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The High Price I Had To Pay: Sentenced To 12 1/2 Years For Victimizing Lehman Brothers Bank Paperback – February 7, 2015
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This amazing story will make your eyes pop out of your head in disbelief. This is a cautionary tale, but also a real champion's one also, and stands as a testament to the power of positive thinking even in the worst situation in today's hard, cold world. A Must-read for anyone looking for an inspirational women's story with real themes to be discussed right now." Self Publishing Review, 5 Stars
Review: The High Price I Had To Pay by Jamila Davis ★★★★★Posted by: Naka Jackson January 29, 2016 in Book Reviews, Lead Story
Jamila Davis, an African American from New York, was seen all over the news, her mugshot plastered wherever newscasters could get it. The FBI testified to Jamila's full guilt, and had the court sending a mother of young children to prison for their entire remaining childhood.
This memoir penned by Davis herself is her story: how she became embroiled in a situation and then the court case that ensued.
Jamila admits what she did do: something of a flip in a loophole for properties owned by rich and famous rappers and the like. She lived the high lifestyle in a beautiful apartment with an elevator in the middle and had a fleet of cars, jewels, and more. But she was not being honest, and this caught up to her - she is contrite in this. But to award her such a sentence for a white-collar crime, and to demonize her in court is clearly not justice. Her law team failed her, one even killing themselves.
Talking about overincarceration and social issues for women such as herself, Davis has gone on to be the unique inspiration for her family, and for many other incarcerated women. She has started a publishing imprint with her parents, Voices International, and speaks to inmates about how they can heal their lives, and survive jail. Her son has been inspired to create a very successful celebrity clothing line to push himself through college. Her daughter writes amazing motivational prose. Maybe Jamila's kids would have been this way anyway with this intelligent, word-savvy writer for a mom, but it's a testament to her remote parenting skills all the same.
While maybe the end of the book speaks too personally and emotionally about NJ Governor Chris Christie and the way that he supported Jamila's incarceration, she has a point. The Old Boys' Club is alive and well in New York State, and there's no justice in sight for most women of color accused of non-violent crimes in America if they can be made a scapegoat. Lack of resources compared to her counterparts made it easy to pin it on the younger and less experienced defendant here.
This is a cautionary tale, but also a real champion's one also, and stands as a testament to the power of positive thinking even in the worst of situations in today's hard, cold world, and to be honest, shows that America's interior race relations fundamentally have moved very little in three hundred years. A must-read for anyone looking for an inspirational women's story with real themes to be discussed right now.
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In joining forces with these women, a study revealed that they received 300% greater sentences than male white collar offenders who had committed the same or similar crimes. The number was a shocking 400% for African American females. That study led to the formation of Women over Incarcerated (WOI), a non-profit organization of which the author is a co-founder. WOI was created to shed light on the lengthy sentences incarcerated women faced and its effect on society. Its purpose is to expose the injustices within the U.S. judicial system and to provide resources and support to incarcerated women.
Through “The High Price I Had To Pay” book series, the author gives incarcerated women a platform to share their stories. Each volume features women serving decade plus sentences for non -violent crimes. While still in prison, since 16 July 2008, serving 151 months in federal prison for bank fraud, the author is still fighting for her cause.
It is New York, July 16, 2008, prior to the 2008 Financial Crisis. Then Imprisoned and accused of being the 25 year old mastermind who victimized the now defunct Lehman Brothers Bank (Lehman) of 22 million dollars in mortgage loans through an elaborate scheme which the bank had alleged that she had masterminded. By 2013, when this book was published, the author had served 5 years of her sentence.
Long before it was revealed that the corporate policies at Lehman were based on fraudulent lending practices, the author tried to expose the “inside” fraudulent conduct that she had witnessed first-hand in her case. She wondered how the government didn’t recognize that novices in the industry, like her, didn’t have the ability to structure fraudulent deals and get them approved without the help of insiders.
Although she took responsibility for her part, her checkered past hindered her, and her allegations of inside fraud were quickly dismissed. She was in no league to contend with her powerful opponent-Lehman. The bank’s prestige and clean image made their credibility golden. At the time, no one believed that the bank would knowingly engage in fraud. Consequently, she became the notorious 25 year-old that developed a massive scheme to defraud Lehman.
Her lengthy sentence was not based solely on her admitted participation in the scheme. She was sentenced just 59 days shy of Lehman’s collapse on September 15, 2008, which spiralled a world wide financial frenzy causing the 2008 Financial Crisis. Had she been sentenced after Lehman’s demise, her fate might have been different.
Lehman’s bankruptcy findings revealed to the world that fraudulent lending practices were embedded in the corporate policies of the firm, and it showed that Lehman in fact orchestrated, encouraged and funded billions of dollars in fraudulent loans. This evidence confirmed her allegations that she did not mastermind the scheme that she admitted to having participated in. Her argument that she was used as a sacrificial lamb by former Wall Street giant, Lehman, to cover up the bank’s own wrongdoings, she made public. As a result, she was “over” punished and the real masterminds were allowed to escape.
It is her prayer that her story will be heard and this memoir is a full notation of the authors side of the story.
In her early twenties she was a thriving business woman. She gained a position of trust with many of her clients. Her newfound prestige, and her desire to maintain it, clouded her business judgments. In her mind, gaining the esteem of her peers outweighed any consequences she would suffer if she got caught. She rationalized her unethical dealings and linked with an outside source, who had the ability to go in all three credit bureaus and illegally erase bad credit and add positive credit lines to her clients credit.
Infantino advised her that they were safe, because he had a contact inside the bank that would push the files through. Like clock-work, the deals were magically approved. She understood this to mean that the bank was okay with receiving “fake” documents. She followed Infantino’s instructions to the letter. Then all of a sudden, instead of remaining Lehman’s ally, she became the bank’s foe. Unknown to her at the time, she was turned in to “the U.S. Attorney’s office by Lehman attorneys who accused us of defrauding the bank. I was confused, I thought we were all in this together.” She was was advised that the only way she could expose the bank’s wrongdoings and the unjust sale of the properties, was to go to trial. Infantino, the mortgage banker who admitted that he orchestrated the scheme and got each deal approved through his inside contact in the bank, was sentenced to 24 months in prison. The lawyer, Daniel Ellis who prepared the fraudulent mortgage documents, and who secured the money from Lehman, also got a 24 month sentence. Both Infantino and Ellis were middle aged white men, who were seasoned veterans in the mortgage industry and both had a history of prior fraudulent dealings.
The author believed the sentence she received was extremely harsh, especially considering the circumstance. She had been severely punished for her role in the scheme, yet not one Lehman director or employee had served a day of prison time. Stripped of her finances and prestige, she was forced to deal with the root of her dilemma- herself. No longer able to hide behind people, places and things, she had to go within to find my own inner strengths and weaknesses. On her path to self-discovery, she had to learn how to love and forgive herself for her past actions.
It took years to rid herself of shame and guilt and to admit her own faults. “But when I did, I finally felt empowered! I was excited to share the road map I used with the belief that one day, justice will be rendered. Therefore, I refuse to let go of my faith. I have now shared with you my story, my faults and my vulnerabilities.”
To share wrongdoings and character flaws is difficult, but she stepped out of the closet. Players who were involved in her prosecution were all woven together through their professional careers and personal relationships. Although this may be common in law and politics, the many conflicts of interest clearly posed problems. Christopher J. Christie, was the U.S. Attorney who presided over her case. On her sentencing date he released a statement, “This is a long prison sentence that appropriately matched the breadth and complexity of the fraud committed by Davis.”
She never understood why the Government was going so hard and making her out as a mastermind of a crime that clearly took the help of insiders. Although she knew she was a target of an over -zealous FBI agent, who had her arrested several times on fictitious charges which were later dropped, she had no clue the corrupt government officials may have also played a role in her demise.
Reading related reports only reassured her there were severe double standards when it came to prosecution in the United States judicial system. The U.S. Attorneys are given a tremendous amount of power, even more than federal judges. For her research continued to dive into the large stack of articles that read like episodes of CSI while her heart raced. How could she ever expect to receive justice in a system run by people who had more power, skills and courage than veteran mobsters ?
Anger and remorse, struggling with the thought that her fight for freedom may somehow have been related to her 7 1/ 2 years left to serve on her sentence, she stays engaged in a fierce legal fight for her freedom, pro se. On February 27, 2013 The Circuit Court of Appeals denied her appeal. Was someone applying some kind of unseen pressure ?
In spite of her obstacles, she still believes justice will one day be rendered on her behalf. What she does not know is, at what price ?!So many post conviction efforts. She had been called every name in the book by her prosecutor the mastermind, who deserved to serve a decade plus sentence behind bars. But the truth is, she is a victim like many others trapped in prisons across the U S. She is a victim of mass incarceration. First hand, she has witnessed what she believes to be the root cause of mass incarceration: It is over-sentencing. “In 2008, I was sentenced to 12 1/ 2 years for bank fraud, as a real estate investor. My alleged victim was the now-defunct Lehman bank in America.”
According to the Bureau of Justice, in a 20 year span, the rate of incarceration for women has increased 800%. Women are no longer exempt from prosecution. More vulnerable and willing to except a plea deal versus trial, females have become easy targets of mass incarceration. Consequently, families across their nation are being destroyed. Suffering with those who deserve encouragement she personally knows their struggles and their pain.
With pen, the author fights injustice motivates and enlightens with her poetry, articles, and facts in this series of books. She uses it as a tool to fight and share her testimony, inspiring hope in others that will learn from her experiences.
This book is for those who wish to know more about the Lehman bank scandal of 2008 and the author’s fight against injustice to women in the U S judicial system.
18 November 2015
It is not often that biographical material sets a book into motion as well as does Jamila’s bio, but then that is what this excellent book is about – her experiences with the world of corruption that she shares with such fluid style that we can almost hear the filmmakers beating a path to her door.
The synopsis, though worthy, is too brief to explore the impact of her writing. ‘THE HIGH PRICE I HAD TO PAY is a captivating real-life story that reveals another aspect of the inside fraud perpetrated by Lehman executives that has yet to be told! Years before the 2008 Financial Crisis, a major epidemic of mortgage fraud surged throughout the country. The FBI geared up to combat the problem, imprisoning thousands who alleged to have victimized Wall Street giants, such as Lehman Brothers. Hidden safely behind the auspices of being a "victim," savvy Ivy League bank executives created additional fraudulent schemes to further their profit. Utilizing their "victimizers" as scapegoats, the bankers' clever plan went undetected. Consequently, the real architects of the massive fraudulent lending schemes escaped unpunished. And the "small fries," who the bankers blamed, were left to do big time!’
A thriller of a novel, though fact and not fiction, this book is a fast read and represents the lifting of the curtain on so many injustices that one started it is difficult not to identify with Jamila’s finely wrought story. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, November 15