When Andris Pukke invited me to begin working with his team at Buy International, in January of 2018, he suggested that I take on the responsibility of raising capital for new developments. He and Rod Kazazi told me that their project in Belize was maturing. They wanted to launch new projects in other locations, including the Bahamas, Cabo San Lucas, and Costa Rica.

I told them that I would only ask others to invest capital if I were going to become an investor. Those conversations led  me to visit Belize and agree to invest. With a contribution of $1.4 million, my wife and I became the largest limited investors in a real estate project in Costa Rica. I invited family and friends to join our team of limited investors.

Together, we contributed $3.35 million toward the Costa Rica real estate development project. 

The Federal Trade Commission and the Receiver seized those funds.

Below are testimonial letters I received from every other person that participated with me as a limited investor. Each of us lost significantly. As the largest single limited investor, and a defendant in the case, I personally lost $3 million in equity, and $5 million in assets.

By being open and transparent, I intend to emerge from this setback with my dignitity intact, and stronger than ever.

David Heiman Investment: $750,000

Click This Link to See Signed Testimonial

David Heiman

P.O. Box 181

Lone Jack, MO 64070



February 10, 2020


The Honorable Peter J. Messitte

United States District Court Judge

United States District Court for the District of Maryland

6500 Cherrywood Lane

Greenbelt, Maryland 20770


  • Regarding: In Re Sanctuary Belize Litigation 18-cv-3309-PJM


Dear Judge Messitte, 

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to testify on Friday, February 7, 2020. As a reminder, I testified about the trips I began making to Sanctuary Belize in 2013. I own real estate in several countries and I really liked what I saw at the development. 

First Investment in Belize:

On January 12, 2013, I agreed to purchase Lot SR072 for $300,000. Toward that purchase, I paid $150,000 plus $18,750 in tax. I was scheduled to pay the balance off in monthly installments of $1,250 plus $156.25 in tax, for a total monthly payment of $1,406.25. On July 7, 2017, I paid off that balance in full. 

Second Investment in Belize:

Later, I returned to Sanctuary Belize. Based on the progress that I saw, I purchased a second property, Lot SR035. The purchase price was $215,000, plus tax of $26,875. I paid the entire price of $241,875 with a single payment. 

My total investment at Sanctuary Belize was $579,375. Each time I visited Sanctuary Belize, I appreciated the progress. As a builder, I understood the complexities of building in a third-world country. From my perspective, and what I saw, the developers were doing a remarkable job. Each time I visited the development, the progress made a favorable impression upon me.

Costa Rica Investment:

In 2018, Michael Santos contacted me with news that the developer was going to create a new development in Costa Rica. He told me that he was going to be the lead investor in the project and that he was looking for other investors to join him. It was the same developer, he said, as Sanctuary Belize. Michael and I developed a friendship over the telephone. He visited my home in Kansas City to discuss his plans with the investment. We agreed to visit the property in Costa Rica together with the development team. We visited the Rancho Del Mar property together with other prospective investors and the developer in the spring of 2018. 

Based on what I saw in Costa Rica, and based on what I knew about the developer from watching progress at Sanctuary Belize, I joined the group to become a limited investor in Rancho Del Mar. Michael Santos told me that he would be the lead investor, with a contribution of more than $1 million, and that he was also bringing family and friends into the project. He pledged to keep me apprised of the development. 

I contributed a check for $750,000 to Newport Land Group. Those funds were earmarked for an investment in the Rancho Del Mar property in Costa Rica. I contributed those funds in July of 2018. 

Through, Michael Santos, I learned that the developer expected to close escrow on the property in November of 2018. Then, the FTC litigation began. All of the limited investors joined together in asking the developer to return our funds. The developer was nonresponsive. On advice of counsel, we filed a lawsuit to recoup the funds we provided to Newport Land Group with intention of investing in Rancho Del Mar. 

Then the FTC amended its complaint, adding Newport Land Group as a defendant. Since then, $750,000 in investment funds that I earmarked for the Costa Rica project have been frozen in a Newport Land Group bank account. Those funds do not have anything to do with Sanctuary Belize.



As an investor, the FTC action has deteriorated the value of my property in Belize. It has also frozen $750,000 that I deposited with Newport Land Group for the expressed purpose of investing in Rancho Del Mar, Costa Rica. In order to raise the $750,000, I borrowed the entire amount against my personal residence. This investment, that I made in good faith, has put my entire financial future in jeopardy. I am 59 years old, and this investment truly threatens retirement for my wife and me—and the $750,000 investment did not have anything to do with Belize or the FTC allegations. As I testified about my investment in Costa Rica, I may be wrong, but you seemed genuinely surprised that the FTC had taken the extreme action of freezing those funds. They seized limited investor funds without any allegation that those funds had anything to do with Belize.

I implore you to order the FTC to return limited investor funds that I contributed to Newport Land Group for an intended investment in Rancho Del Mar, Costa Rica. 


David Heiman

Darren Christien Investment: $600,000

Click This Link to See Signed Testimonial Letter Darren Filed with Court

Darren Christian

1211 Hunter Road

Wilmette, IL 60091


February 10, 2020


The Honorable Peter J. Messitte

United States District Court Judge

United States District Court for the District of Maryland

6500 Cherrywood Lane

Greenbelt, Maryland 20770



Regarding: In Re Sanctuary Belize Litigation 18-cv-3309-PJM


  • DECLARATION OF DARREN CHRISTIAN: Investor in Sanctuary Belize and in Rancho Del Mar, Costa Rica



Dear Judge Messitte:


Although I wanted to get to the trial to testify, work responsibilities prevented me from being able to get there. Still, I wanted you to have these thoughts. I am presenting the information to the best of my ability.


Thank you for considering the thoughts that follow:


I, Darren Christian, declare:


  1. I am not a lawyer and I am submitting this document pro se.
  2. I implore this honorable Court to interpret these pleadings liberally because I do not have legal training.
  3. I am over the age of 18 years old. If called upon to testify, I could and would testify in accordance with this declaration.
  4. I met Andris Pukke, Brandi Greenfield, Rod Kazazi, and Michael Santos when I toured an investment opportunity in Costa Rica, in May of 2018.
  5. I state the following:
    1. Back in March of 2017, I purchased an investment property the North Ridge sub-division at The Reserve in Belize for $400,000.
    2. In April of 2018, I revisited Belize and contemplated purchasing additional properties at The Reserve in Belize.
    3. Michael Santos contacted me and told me that he was going to invest in a new project in Costa Rica by the same developer of The Reserve.
  6. I spoke with Michael Santos after he returned from Belize. During those conversations:
  7. Michael Santos told me that Andris Pukke had specified to him that Newport Land Group was a separate, independent, new company that Andris had started with others to develop real estate in other countries outside of Belize.
  8. Michael Santos told me that he intended to personally invest more than $1 million as a limited partner in the planned Costa Rica, Rancho Del Mar project.
  9. I agreed to join Michael Santos as a limited partner in the Costa Rica real estate investment known as Rancho Del Mar.
  10. I based my investment decision, in part, on Michael Santos’s confidence that the Costa Rica project had merit, and that he was personally investing his own money.
  11. Shortly after returning from the Costa Rica trip, I received documents from Newport Land Group with instructions on how to become a limited partner in the Rancho Del Mar Costa Rica real estate investment.
  12. Newport Land Group told me that all funds from investors in the planned Rancho Del Mar Costa Rica project would be reserved in the Newport Land Group Bank Account ending in 8924 until Newport Land Group purchased the land for the Rancho Del Mar Costa Rica project.
  13. I transferred $600,000 from my personal, independent retirement account to the Newport Land Group bank account at Bank of America ending in 8924.
  14. Michael Santos sent me the names and investment amounts of the other Class A investors that were also going to invest with him in the Rancho Del Mar real estate development project in Costa Rica:
  15. Michael and Carole Santos: $1,400,000
  16. David and Lisa Heiman: $750,000
  17. Darren Christian: $600,000
  18. Julie Santos: $100,000
  19. Chan Martin: $100,000
  20. Jamie Teng and Juliana Tengonciang: $100,000
  21. Quan Lin and Yu Lin: $200,000
  22. Jasmin Tengonciang: $50,000
  23. Clarissa Tengonciang: $25,000
  24. Mary Jane Prijoles: $25,0000
  25. I understood that Class A investors contributed a total amount of $3,340,000 into the Newport Land Group Bank of America account ending in 8924.
  26. Michael Santos told me that, like me, David Heiman had invested previously in Andris Pukke’s Belize real estate project, and he was also investing in the Costa Rica project because he believed it was a good investment.
  27. The Costa Rica real estate project never went through because of the FTC Action against Belize.
  28. I wrote a letter to Newport Land Group requesting the return of my investment.
  29. I declare under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true and correct and this declaration was executed on February 10th, 2020.


Summary of my investments:

Back in March of 2017, when I originally visited The Reserve in Belize, I had very little intention of making an investment in purchasing a lot in the development.  I was impressed with the design and future plans for the development.  I especially enjoyed the fact that the development was extremely conscious of the environment and truly protecting this sanctuary.

There was no pressure by the sales team as I really had no intention of purchasing a lot and I felt very comfortable during the entire trip.  I sat back and learned as much as I could about what the plans were for the development and how they plan to achieve its goal.

While the sales team did speak about an airport and hospital being, independently, planned outside the development, it was never spoken that either of these entities were a part of The Reserve.  I fully understand that these were plans for Belize and not those of The Reserve.

I was so impressed with the developers plans that I decided to start speaking more seriously to them about possibly purchasing a lot in North Ridge.  During our private meetings, I felt no pressure from any of the team members.  I invested in The Reserve in Belize because I fully believed this was a great investment opportunity.

Before I left the country, I began to have discussions with a few of the local builders.  Once back home in the United States, I had further discussions with architects and a few American builders.  I knew that Belize was a fairly underdeveloped country and I knew that things moved a little slower in the country because they simply don’t have the resources and building standards that we have here in America.

After speaking to the American builders and architects, I fully understood that the building process would be a little more challenging down in Belize because I would have to have many of my building materials loaded onto a shipping container down in Florida and shipped over to Belize.  I wanted my home in Belize to be structurally sound and built to the American standards while using many American materials.  Those were my choices and I understood that it would be a longer process to build down in The Reserve in Belize.  While I fully understood this, I was very confident in my decision to purchase a lot down in Belize.

After a year had passed, I decided to revisit Belize for two reasons.  First, I wanted to see how the development was moving along and secondly, I was interested in possibly purchasing more lots.  In early April of 2018, I flew back down to The Reserve.  This time, the trip was much different than my first experience.  During my initial trip in 2017, we had overnight accommodations and our meals off-site at different locations.

During my second trip in 2018, we had overnight accommodations and our meals on-site at The Reserve.  I was very impressed with the progress that had been made over the course of the past year.  Of course, everyone would have liked to see things move at a faster pace but I fully understood that we were in a country with limited resources and trades to have things move as fast as they do in the United States.

Both times I visited Belize, I witnessed work being done and earth machines working on the development.  The marina was fully functional and things were much further along than my first trip.  I was excited and when I got back home, I started entertaining the option of purchasing additional lots in The Reserve.

While I was doing my research about purchasing additional lots in Belize, Michael Santos contacted me stating that there was a new development being considered down in Costa Rica.  I understood that this investment would be more on the development side rather than purchasing a lot.  I further understood that this could be a tremendous opportunity as I could jump in at the beginning stages of a new development.  I also understood that the initial investors in Belize had done quite well with their investments and so I became interested in learning more about Costa Rica.

Michael told me that a trip to Costa Rica was being planned for May of 2018 and I should consider coming down and seeing the potential development site.  Again, there was no pressure with the Costa Rica investment, and I went down with the team just to see if there was any real possibilities in this new location.  This trip introduced me to Andris Pukke, Brandi Greenfield, Rod Kazazi, and I finally met Michael Santos as we had only spoken over the phone.  I became very interested in Costa Rica because it is a much further developed country other than Belize.  I loved Belize because it was an underdeveloped country with many opportunities.  I loved Costa Rica because of its beauty and opportunities for more rapid growth within the development.  I thought it would be better for me to invest my monies in both locations rather than just placing all my monies in Belize.

Costa Rica is totally independent than Belize.  The only connection between the two countries is the developer.  There are two different companies established for both countries.  My Belize investment is totally separate from my Costa Rica investment.  I was shocked to learn that the FTC was looping both investments into their case against the developer.  I understood that our investment with Costa Rica was held in a separate banking account and that our monies were safe.

It’s my hopes and prayers that the courts see these developments as totally independent from one another and that our Costa Rica monies will be returned to us, in full.  We, the investors in Costa Rica have no fault, nor complaint in this matter other than our monies should have been protected and returned to us.  This has been a very difficult time for us all and we’re hoping to move past this and have all our monies returned to us.  Thank you for your time and consideration to clear up this matter so we can all move forward.



Darren Christian

1211 Hunter Road

Wilmette, IL 60091


Email: Decwin@live.com



Jamie Teng and Family: $400,000

Jamie Teng and his family invested a cumulative total of $400,000 to become limited investors in the Costa Rica real estate project.

He provided me with the following declaration:

Declaration of Jamie Teng

November 22, 2018

I, Jamie Teng, declare as follows: 

  1. I am an individual over the age of eighteen. I make this declaration in support of Michael Santos, based on my own personal knowledge. If called as a witness, I could and would testify competently as to the facts contained below.


  1. I am part of a family business that has a long-term lease in a property that Michael Santos owns with his wife, Carole Santos. My lease includes an option to purchase the property for $1.25 million in 2023. Our family intends to exercise its option and purchase the property.


  1. During the course of our business discussions, I learned about Michael’s background story about becoming a real estate investor after his release from 26 years in prison. In the spring of 2018, Michael revealed that he was making new investments overseas.


  1. We had a family meeting where Michael spoke with our family members about an investment he was making in Costa Rica. From that investment, he expected to receive 100% of the capital back within five years. In total, the developer projected that investors would receive 5.3 times their money back over the course of 20 years.


  1. Michael said he felt so strongly about the potential for this investment that he was taking measures to raise more capital to invest. He said he was leveraging properties he owned, selling properties, and raising capital from friends who invested with him in the past. He was also bringing both of his sisters into the investment.


  1. On June 30, 2018, our family members travelled to the developer’s office building, on the fifth floor of the Traveler’s Office Building, at 3333 Michelson Drive, in Irvine, California. We toured the developer’s business operations and had a meeting in a large conference room. Andris Pukke and Brandi Greenfield were present in that meeting and told us about their development plans in Costa Rica, confirming what Michael Santos had told us.


  1. Since we did not expect to exercise our right to purchase the property we were leasing from Michael Santos until 2023, we agreed as a family to invest a total of $400,000 as Class A Investors.


  1. In early August of 2018, our family members sent a cumulative total of $400,000 to Newport Land Group for the purpose of becoming Class A investors in Rancho Del Mar, LLC. I am one of the named Class A investors in that entity.


  1. I offer this full and complete testimonial of my own accord and I authorize Michael to publish the Declaration on his website.



Jamie Teng

Julie Santos Investment: $100,000

Julie Santos is my sister. She joined me as a limited investor in the Costa Rica real estate project. Julie invested $100,000. Below I attach her sworn declaration:


Christina Santos Investment: $100,000

Christina Bedoya Santos is my younger sister. She joined me as a limited investor by contributing $100,000 toward the real estate investment project in Costa Rica. Below I provide a copy of her testimonial, and a copy of the check she provided for me to invest.


Chan Martin Investment: $100,000

  • Declaration of Chan Martin

    November 22, 2018


    I, Chan Martin, declare as follows:


    1. I am an individual over the age of eighteen. I make this declaration in support of Michael Santos, based on my own personal knowledge. If called as a witness, I could and would testify competently as to the facts contained below.


    1. I have never met Michael Santos in person, but I have spoken to him over the phone on several occasions since 2017.


    1. My husband has done business with Michael Santos. My husband has read several books that Michael Santos wrote and my husband considers Michael Santos both a mentor and a friend.


    1. My husband learned that Michael Santos was succeeding as a real estate investor and he asked Michael about investment opportunities. Michael told my husband that he was investing more than $1 million into a land-development project in Costa Rica. Michael told my husband that he knew the land developer from when he was in prison.


    1. Michael said that as a result of what he learned from due diligence he completed on both the land developer, and on previous development projects where the developer was involved in Belize, he would make his largest real estate investment, with a commitment of more than $1 million.


    1. Michael told my husband that he felt so strongly about the potential for this investment that he was taking measures to raise more capital to invest. He said he was leveraging properties he owned, selling properties, and raising capital to join in the opportunity. He was also bringing both of his sisters into the investment.


    1. After extensive discussions with my husband, I agreed to invest $100,000 to become a Class A investor in Rancho Del Mar, LLC Costa Rica.


    1. I offer this full and complete testimonial of my own accord and I authorize Michael to publish the Declaration on his website.



    Chan Martin

  • chanmartinsr@gmail.com

Scott Hicko: Laguna Palms Investor

Scott Hicko was one of three people that purchased a lot in the Laguna Palms section of the development. Below is a signed testimonial:

Susan Hughes: Laguna Palms Investor

Susan Hughes was one of three people that chose to invest in a lot at the Laguna Palms section of Belize. Below is her signed testimonial:

Regina Debrew: Laguna Palms Investor

Regina Dewbrew is one of three people that chose to invest in the Laguna Palms section. Below is Regina’s signed testimonial:

Option Contract for Laguna Palms, Belize

Below is a copy of the option contract I had to acquire lots in the Laguna Palms section of Belize.




Anyone can publish logos on a website, but someone with a success mindset will offer proof.

In an effort to show authenticity, I offer links to public endorsements I’ve received from dozens of America’s leading citizens. Those testimonials show that I have a success mindset and that I teach others how to prepare for success. Learn from those testimonials; you’ll see the value of sowing seeds early for the success you want to build in the future.

Expand accordion boxes below to verify authenticity of testimonials.

I never ask anyone to do anything that I’m not doing. If you want to build a success mindset, then follow the guidance I offer.

Build prosperity, and build your life!

NBC News, 5-minute video, 10/18/2013

On October 18, 2013, NBC News in San Francisco broadcast a video profile of my journey. The video shows the methodical ways that I prepared for success while serving 26-years in federal prison.

The video profile lasts about five minutes. I’m grateful to Garvin Thomas and Lisa Fernandez for putting so much work into the story.

The news crew filmed me while I taught at San Francisco State University and also at my house.

The video features the only photograph from my early journey in prison and told the story of how Socrates inspired me to begin preparing for a life of meaning and relevance.

Viewers can watch as I worked at my computer, learning how to create digital content for the Internet.

The news segment shows my wife, Carole, and books I wrote while I was in prison. See how created courses that I now sell to prison administrators from across the United States.

The film crew also followed me while I spoke at The University of California, Berkeley.

Since a person cannot buy this type of media coverage, I offer it as validation. Many people publish logos on their websites, but they don’t offer the backstory to show authenticity.

Get the back story by visiting the full interview at the following link:


NBC Bay Area Proud:


PBS NewsHour: 7-Minute Video, 4/2/2014

On April 2, 2014, PBS NewsHour published a story to profile work I do to improve outcomes of America’s criminal justice system. The news crew filmed footage while I taught inside of a San Francisco jail.

At the time of the broadcast, San Francisco State University employed me as a professor. The PBS NewsHour crew filmed as I taught.

Later I spoke at a professional conference for more than 1,500 executives in Silicon Valley. The news crew followed to film for that keynote presentation. They also filmed me in the first property I purchased to launch my real estate career.

This opportunity opened because an executive at PBS NewsHour happened to be in the office when I keynoted a conference for the California Wellness Foundation. The California Wellness Foundation has been a huge sponsor of work I’ve done to teach and inspire people in prison.

My friend and partner, Justin Paperny, launched a nonprofit organization to spread this work. I wrote grant requests that have resulted in more than $1 million in funding from the California Wellness Foundation. We’ve used those resources to create digital content that teaches and inspires more than 100,000 people in prisons across the United States.


Watch PBS NewsProfile

Stanford University Law School, 6/8/2012 and 11/17/2017

To overcome struggle, we must sow seeds early. I began sowing those seeds at the start of my journey. As years passed, I found mentors that have been enormously influential in my life. One of those mentors is Joan Petersilia, the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Co-Director of the Stanford Criminal Justice Center.

While I was in my 22nd year of imprisonment, Joan reached out to me. She told me that she had been using some of my books to help her students understand America’s prison system. She invited me to contribute a chapter to her book, The Oxford Book of Sentencing and Corrections, a scholarly book that is used in universities across the United States—including Stanford University. Being invited to contribute a chapter to Joan’s book was one of many highlights during my 26-year journey through prison.

As I approached the end of my time in confinement, I asked Joan for an endorsement. The letter I attach is what she wrote on my behalf. Joan later updated her letter so that I could use it as a resource for an entrepreneurial venture I was beginning.


Forbes Magazine, 9/24/2008

I never tell anyone to do anything that I didn’t do and that I’m not still doing! Start sowing seeds for success early. Through those testimonial letters, you can see how I began sowing those seeds early during my journey, deep within the bowels of America’s federal prison system.

Despite living in struggle, I never I also had hoped—and I always worked to teach and inspire others. Those efforts led to opportunities, like when an editor from Forbes magazine reached out with an offer. The magazine was publishing a series of articles on power. The editor invited me to contribute. Below I include a link to the article that is still alive on the Forbes website.

The salient point for readers is to see that if we want to build strong support networks that we can leverage into new opportunities, we must work. I worked every day, through 9,500 days of imprisonment. The efforts helped me build a massive support network and income opportunities that I leveraged upon my release.

The time is now for you to begin sowing seeds for success.

Read Article in Forbes Magazine

The Orange County Register, 8/3/2017

While building my portfolio of real estate properties, I simultaneously built other businesses.

One business I built produces digital content that I sell to improve outcomes of America’s criminal justice system. My clients for those products include the federal government, state governments, and school districts. It sometimes leads to keynote speeches, that reporters cover.

In August of 2017, I gave one of those keynotes at a conference for Safe Schools in Orange County California. I’ve done a lot of work with the Orange County Department of Education and I was pleased to make my presentation at the conference of about 500 people.

I’m also grateful to Kelly Puente, a reporter of the Orange County Register for writing a story that memorialized the event. You can read the article by clicking the link below:


Orange County Register Article

The Seattle Times: Feature Story in Pacific NW Magazine, 9/24/2006

If you want to build a life of success and prosperity, you’ve got to draw your line in the sand—let the world know that you’re moving in a new direction. I strive to show others how making such an affirmative statement to grow can lead to new opportunities. The profile available at the link below validates the story of how a journey that starts in struggle can move into prosperity.

Here is the background. On August 11, 1987, when I was 23, authorities took me into custody. I sold cocaine and I faced serious charges. At the time of my arrest, I was not ready to accept responsibility. Instead, I continued making bad decisions, like pleading not guilty and going through trial.

Stuart Eskenazi, a journalist, covered the story of my trial for the local newspaper.

After a jury convicted me, I made a decision to work toward reconciling with society. Socrates inspired me to want to change, to want to grow. I began building a pathway to success. And to memorialize the change in my mindset, I wrote a letter to Stuart Eskenazi, the journalist. In the letter, I told him that I would spend every day in confinement working to make amends and to grow. If he wanted to discuss my plan, he could visit me in the jail.

That letter represented my line in the sand. Stuart visited me in the Pierce County Jail. He interviewed me. That interview led to a front-page story.

Twenty years later, I was still in prison. But I’d made a lot of progress. I was then confined at the federal prison in Lompoc, California. Stuart flew from Seattle to Lompoc to interview me for a feature story in the Pacific NW Magazine. In the article, he confirms what I told him at the start of my journey, and wrote about the progress I made during my first two decades in prison.


Seattle Times Article

Business Insider, 9/26/2013

If you’re on a pathway to success, develop the right mindset. I had the mindset for success from the earliest days of my journey. The accomplishments I made in prison brought leaders into my circle of friends. One of those friends was Greg Reyes, the former CEO and Chairman of Brocade Communications. We became friends while Greg was with me in Taft. He was not a runner when he came in, but we ran several marathon distances together in prison.

When I concluded my sentence began building my career in society, an editor from Business Insider began to cover my work. She asked me to publish stories in the business magazine. As we conversed, she learned about my relationship with Greg, a billionaire investor and a friend of mine. That led to her publishing a story which you can access from the link below. You can also see other stories that I wrote for Business Insider by clicking the links.


Business Insider Stories

San Francisco Chronicle, 11/12/2012

If you want to prepare for success, you can learn from the guidance I offer. Notice that I never ask anyone to do anything that I didn’t do. I live transparently. I invite the world to hold me accountable. By living in accordance with the mindset of success, opportunities opened.

For example, read this front-page article from the San Francisco Chronicle. Within days of my transfer from a federal prison to a halfway house where I would serve my final year, I received a phone call from the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle. The editor told me that he had been following my work on preparing for success while I was in prison. He asked if a reporter could write a feature profile to chronicle my return to society after multiple decades in prison.

I take every opportunity to build awareness, to get attention. Attention is what I use to leverage my career. We can welcome attention when we’re honest, and when we live transparently.

I leveraged this article in the San Francisco Chronicle into many new opportunities—including a career as a keynote speaker, and a career as a professor at a major university. This article also helped me to raise millions of dollars in financing to begin my career as a real estate investor.


San Francisco Chronicle Article

Los Angeles Times, 08/20/2006

When St. Martin’s Press published Inside: Life Behind Bars in America, more than 50 major newspapers brought attention to the work by publishing book reviews.  The Los Angeles Times Sunday Book Review retained a celebrated writer who won a Pulitzer Prize for journalism to write the first review.

The review by Ed Humes brought my work to the attention of more than 1 million people. I could leverage the review to open new opportunities.

Use this strategy of building support to open new opportunities in your life.


Los Angeles Times Book Review

New York Times, 9/10/2006

On September 10, 2006, The New York Times Sunday Book Review published Tara McKelvey’s take on the book I wrote. It’s a tough to get one of the world’s most influential newspapers to bring attention to an author’s work. I wouldn’t even consider myself an author—even though I wrote dozens of books. Yet while I was in prison, I worked hard to build new relationships. I believed that new relationships could influence prospects for success, opening new opportunities.

Think of how you can open new relationships, then use those relationships to advance your business or career.

New York Times Book Review

Huffington Post, 2010 through 2016

While I was locked in prison, I used every opportunity to get attention from the media. Attention in the media would expose my work to millions of law-abiding American citizens. I hoped to reconcile with those citizens. If I could influence people to judge me for the work that I did to atone, I hoped to overcome their perceptions of me as a prisoner.

If you’re striving to advance your life, your business, your career, think about the people you will meet in the future. What can you do today to sow seeds for how others will see you later?

I reached out to newspapers like the Huffington Post and pursued opportunities to write. By clicking the link below you’ll my author profile and see that I wrote extensively and regularly.

Huffington Post

Tacoma News Tribune, 10/16/2015

In the fall of 2015, the University of Washington invited me to make a series of presentations on the subject of mass incarceration. Before traveling to the Pacific Northwest to make a lengthy keynote presentation for the community, and a series of classroom presentations, I reached out to a journalist at the newspaper. I went to trial in Judge Jack Tanner’s courtroom at the Federal District Court in Tacoma back in the late 1980s. Returning to tell the story of how hard I worked to prepare for success brought me a sense of fulfillment, and I am grateful to Alexis Krell for showing interest in the story.

If you’d like to see the keynote presentation, visit the keynote section of this website.

Tacoma News Tribune

Quora Articles, 2012 through 2017

When I transferred from federal prison to a halfway house in San Francisco, one of my mentors recommended that I begin publishing articles on Quora.

The link below provides access to 61 articles I wrote. As of September 20, 2018, those articles have generated more than 1.9 million views and they connected me to many opportunities.

These efforts I made to open opportunities with journalists shows the continuous effort I make to build a strong support network. That strong support network had a huge influence on the success I was able to build after prison. If you want to build a stronger support network, raise capital, build your career, or do anything, then take action.

Quora Articles

TEDx Keynote Speech, 6/13/2013

As a direct result of the hundreds of hours I invested to write for Quora and other newspapers, my level of influence grew after authorities released me from prison. An organizer from TEDx contacted me after reading some of my work and invited me to make a presentation at a TEDx event in Silicon Valley.

At the time of the presentation, I was still confined to a halfway house. But I was making progress, daily progress toward building my career. My friend and mentor flew me to the presentation from the North Bay of San Francisco to Silicon Valley so I could have a good memory of the event. Projects like these showed my eagerness to contribute to society, and those contributions helped me to open financing opportunities that led to the acquisition of real estate.

Remember that one step leads to another. Think of how the steps you’re taking today will lead to the success you want to become tomorrow.

TEDx Speech

Gizmodo, 01/09/13

The famed technology magazine, Gizmodo, reached out with a request to publish an article I wrote about returning to society after multiple decades. In truth, I was still in the halfway house, finishing up my final year of imprisonment when I wrote this article. When I went into the prison system, the Internet wasn’t yet a mainstream product. In fact, we can review some of the ways that technology evolved during the 26 years that I lived as a prisoner:

  • The Internet became widespread
  • Email became a staple of society
  • YouTube videos became popular learning tools
  • Cell phones became more powerful than the computers that existed when I went to prison

I had to learn how to use technology while I was in the halfway house. It was a thrill for me, as I knew that by investing in myself, I would open opportunities to grow and build my career.

In what ways are you investing in yourself today to build a better future?

Gizmodo Article

The Daily Dot, 2012 through 2014

Another editor from an online newspaper invited me to become a contributing author when I was finishing the final year of my prison term at the San Francisco Halfway House. I seized every opportunity to build more awareness. The more people I could reach, the more potential I would have to make a positive contribution. Positive contributions helped me build influence. And influence helped to advance my career.

The link below shows a series of articles that the Daily Dot published about my journey. Those articles opened new opportunities that I could leverage.

Daily Dot

Ethics Daily, 6/26/2011

Professor Colin Harris taught at Mercer University while I served time in federal prison. He knew me at the start of my journey and he knew the level of commitment I made toward growing and improving my life.

As I approached the end of my journey, Professor Harris wrote an article about what he knew about my experience. It’s important to sow seeds early. Those seeds grow stronger. They become essential to creating new opportunities. At any time we can sow seeds that will help us build influence, or get attention. That attention becomes an opportunity. Those opportunities can advance our career and our life in years and decades to come.

Think about what you can do today to build a stronger tomorrow.

Ethics Daily Article

Santa Maria Sun, 08/30/07

In the early 2000s, I made a commitment to work toward broadening my source of support. I knew that I had crossed over into the second half of my sentence. After 26 years, I would return to society. I thought about how I could build support and writing became my focus. Besides ghost writing more than a dozen books for other prisoners, I wrote the following books under my name:

  1. Drugs and Money (self published)
  2. About Prison (Wadsorth / Thompson / Cengage)
  3. Profiles from Prison (Greenwood Praeger)
  4. Inside Life Behind Bars in America (St. Martin’s Press)
  5. Earning Freedom (self-published)
  6. Success! The Straight-A Guide (self-published)
  7. Triumph! The Straight-A Guide series (self-published)
  8. Prison! My 8,344th Day (self-published)
  9. Success After Prison (self-published)
  10. Prison To Paradise (self-published)

Besides writing books, I wrote scores of articles for others to help bring attention to the work. It was my way of reaching out from the bowels of a federal prison to connect with society. By reaching out, I made a connection with John McReynolds and he published a nice review of my work, which you can see by clicking the link below.

Think about how you can use this strategy to build your career.

Article in Santa Maria Sun

California Forward, 08/20/2012

After I transferred from 25 years in federal prison to begin serving my final year in a San Francisco Halfway House, a mentor of mine who was a professor at Stanford Law School, Joan Petersilia, introduced me to the publication known as California Forward. The online magazine invited me to contribute a series of articles that would help citizens what it was like to return to society after decades. The link below shows how hard I work to contribute.

California Forward Articles

UC Hastings Law Review Article, 08/2015

In 2014, editors from the UC Hastings Law Review wrote to invite me to deliver a keynote presentation at a judicial symposium. I felt honored to deliver a presentation to the legal community in San Francisco. After the presentation, the editors suggested that I contribute an article to the Law Review. Below is the link to the article I wrote that UC Hastings published.


UC Hastings Law Review

Robina Institute, 11/12/2012

The Robina Institute is an influential policy group at the University of Minnesota Law School. In 2013, I received an invitation to participate on an advisory panel. Other participants included leaders from law enforcement in several states. There were approximately 100 members on the group; all of them were at the Director level. I learned a great deal from the process, and I also had an opportunity to advocate for change in the criminal justice system.

Professor Ed Rhine wrote a nice testimonial that I’ve used to leverage my career.

Always think about seeds you can sow today to build more support and strength to overcome challenges ahead.

Robina Institute

Silicon Valley Joint Venture, Keynote Speech 02/14/2014

I gave several presentations at Stanford that resulted in several leaders from Silicon Valley becoming aware of my work. One of those presentations resulted in an invitation to speak at a corporate event hosted by Joint Venture Silicon Valley, where I spoke before 1,500 of the most influential technology executives. That presentation opened several opportunities that I’ve used to leverage my career.

Remember that the seeds you sow today can lead into fruit that will feed you for a lifetime.

TED Speech

California Wellness Foundation Keynote Speech, 11/04/2013

Within a few weeks of concluding my prison term in San Francisco, in August of 2013, I traveled to San Diego so that I could keynote a conference for California Wellness Foundation, a billion-dollar philanthropy. If you would like to see the keynote, please click the link below. You’ll see that the philanthropy provided more than $1 million to fund the creation of my work. Programs I created now reach more than 100,000 people every year, and I’m grateful to California Wellness for being so supportive.


California Wellness Foundation

Lompoc Record, 05/01/2007

As a result of my commitment to writing and building a broad support network from inside of prison, I attracted the attention of prison authorities. Frequently, they responded to the influence I built in society by locking me in segregated housing. They threatened to separate me from visits or telephone calls or mail. This article shows some of the challenges my wife had to go through as a result of my commitment to building a support network.

What mountains are you willing to climb in order to build a life of success, meaning, and relevance? We always must strive to build support and create opportunities.

Lompoc Record:

Wikipedia, 2012

As a result of my writing for so many publications, I came to the attention of many people. Articles I published in Quora have received nearly two million views. One of those views was a professor who worked with Wikipedia. He sent me a note telling me that he wrote an article about my journey in Wikipedia. That’s a great resource because other people use the article to learn more about how hard I worked to prepare for success upon release. Since the initial article, others have contributed to update it.


Wikipedia Entry


U.S. Department of Justice, 06/2016

In 2014, I keynoted a judicial symposium in Sacramento sponsored by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. The presentation resulted in opening several opportunities, including an invitation to travel to Guam and Saipan, at the invitation of the U.S. Attorney for Guam and Saipan, Alician Limtiaco. I traveled to introduce my program to business leaders, law enforcement, community organizers, and the media. During a seven day trip, I made more than 30 presentations. The Micronesia community ran several publications from the event, which you may read about at the following links:


U.S. Department of Justice


Rate My Professor, 2013 and 2014

Within a few weeks of completing my prison term, San Francisco State University hired me to serve as an adjunct professor. I created a course to teach students about the origins of mass incarceration—focusing on steps we could to improve outcomes of the criminal justice system. The course was widely popular, resulting in substantial amounts of media coverage. You can see some video coverage by visiting the Keynote page of this website.

Below is a link to student reviews of my work as a professor.

Rate My Professor

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