I’d been retired from the FBI for a couple years and was working near Richard in Connecticut at a large hedge fund. I was looking for speakers for an internal fraud training series intended for our investigative team. I’d never heard his story but am always on the lookout for fraud tales of redemption and wondered if Richard’s might be one of those.
I did some research and finally contacted Richard, whereupon he agreed to come speak at our office. At this point, he’d never really told his story or given a lecture about compliance and enforcement. He didn’t even have a slide deck put together yet, but I was hopeful.
Based on past experience, there are generally two ways these sorts of talks can go:
The ex-con wants to profit from the experience and educate others but hasn’t really embraced what he or she did. They struggle with remorse and still hold a grudge over their plight, not really coming to terms with the ordeal, thus soiling their message along the way. Audiences see through this pretty quickly and the engagements dry up just as fast.
Or, the ex-con wants to educate others (and profit if possible) and takes full ownership of their own wrongdoing, even if they may not agree with every aspect of what occurred. This person shows sincerity, humility, honesty in responses, and becomes an open book to the audience. I’m told it can be a cathartic experience for both the audience and presenter when done well.
So which would Richard be? He arrived as scheduled and we got acquainted before the audience arrived. He was nervous and so was I.
I told him, “just put the story out there and whatever happens will happen.”
After all, that’s all you can really do. He’d already been through so much. And that’s exactly what he did.
Halting at first, he gained his stride, and covered it all — the motivation, acts, and consequences to be paid, confidently and without excuse, taking time to explain every detail and answer every question.
He kept his composure until the end when he talked about the toll of his crime on his family. Understandably, some tears were shed, including many in the audience. I won’t speak for Richard but suspect it was the first of many cathartic interactions he’s had with audiences subsequently.
Since then, I’ve gotten to know Richard even better, coaxed him into providing another presentation with my current employer, and am proud to call him my friend.
When he asked me to narrate a training video based on a Mastercard production, it was an easy decision.
In my opinion, every corporate compliance department in America should have this training or something similar available. Listen to what Richard is saying and warning us all about.
Violations of the FCPA are no joke. He lived this. I don’t know who could be a more powerful advocate, spokesperson, and promoter than Richard Bistrong.
Thanks, Richard — your story and dedication in educating through personal experience is working. And it serves as an inspiration for everyone.
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Keith Slotter is the Vice President for Security at JetBlue Airways. Prior to entering the private sector, he was an FBI Special Agent for twenty-five years, concluding his career as the Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Division, leading a vast array of major national security and criminal investigations.