51- Attorneys, Attorneys, and More Attorneys
The headlines of the Gainesville Sun read, “FBI Raids Alachua Medical Manager Offices.” Underneath was my picture next to the story heading.
I had never been publicly disgraced before, and I noticed that it definitely stirred up the psyche. That voice inside my head kept wanting to explain that this had nothing to do with me.
I had spent all these years quieting down that mental voice, and I had learned that listening to it only fuels the fire.
I knew how powerful it was to simply relax and release past that urge to defend oneself. I resolved to only discuss the matter when absolutely necessary.
I was not going to let it steal the great peace and joy I felt deep inside.
we were talking about hiring thirty to forty attorneys, plus two firms for the company. If I hadn’t been stunned by the raid, I was certainly going to be stunned by what it meant to defend yourself against it.
If I had been left on my own, I probably would have figured that since I didn’t do anything, I should just go in and talk to the government. Fortunately, I was surrounded by savvy businesspeople who knew that you don’t do anything until you consult an attorney and find out what’s going on.
Bobby knew he was caught. It was just a matter of time before we realized that he had stolen almost six million dollars in kickbacks and embezzlement schemes. He was going to prison for a very long time. But Bobby was a con man, and apparently a very good one. He had certainly conned us for years while managing to carry out his fraud undetected.
With the skill of a Picasso, he was painting a masterpiece on the blank canvas of people’s minds. All he had to do was be sure he told the story in a way that would later be supportable by the documents they would find.
The government forms a view and then tries to find evidence to support that view. That is what the FBI was currently doing with the mass of documents taken during the raid. Randy said the problem with that many documents is that you can always find a way to make them say what you want.
On that ominous note, Randy agreed to defend me to the best of his ability, and we shook hands. I could never have known the odyssey we were about to embark on together. Nor could I have known how close our friendship would become.
52- United States of America v. Michael A. Singer
He said there wasn’t much for us to do until the government investigators had worked through what they had seized and were prepared to discuss their case.
I was shocked to learn I was one of the chief targets of the investigation.
The government was head-hunting, and because I had been the CEO, that put me on the top of the list.
The last thing in the world I wanted to do was hurt the company. After twenty-five years of committed service, it was time to resign. On February 9, 2005, I sent my resignation letter to WebMD’s CEO.
Life had always done that to me, and accepting those changes was my great experiment. I knew that this attack by the government was no exception. I just had to be willing to go wherever it took me.
In the meantime, I had been given the space to begin writing the books I always knew I was going to write. There were two of them: The first would impart what I had learned since first noticing my mental voice talking while I was sitting on that couch so many years ago. It would be a journey back to the seat of Self that could be taken by anyone in the world. It was to be called The Untethered Soul.
The second book would be the stories of the miraculous flow of events that happened over the years as I let go and let life unfold naturally. It would be called The Surrender Experiment. I couldn’t start that book yet, because I had no idea how this latest chapter would play out. So in the midst of all this change and uncertainty, I began working on The Untethered Soul.
By November 2005, a full two years after the raid, Randy was hearing that an indictment was imminent.
Randy sent me a one-inch-thick stack of documents that the government intended to use to prove I was behind Bobby’s activities.
I was very interested in getting to study this material, yet at the same time I was somewhat apprehensive. After only a few hours, I was flabbergasted. I did not see anything in these documents that incriminated me.
I was relieved because, as I suspected, they didn’t find anything indicating I had done anything wrong. I felt concerned because they were obviously considering these circled documents as evidence against me. I didn’t know what to think, so I called Randy.
Just one month later, on December 19, 2005, Randy received notification from the U.S. Marshals Office in Columbia, South Carolina, that a federal indictment had been issued—I was under arrest. Along with nine other prior executives of Medical Manager Corporation, I was to turn myself in to the federal authorities at an arraignment on December 28 in Charleston, South Carolina. The summons read:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA V. MICHAEL A. SINGER
53- Preparing a Defense
In all honesty, it was about the furthest thing from the truth that I had ever seen in my life. I knew that Bobby had implicated us by telling the government that we were aware of everything he had done wrong. In the eyes of the law, that would have made us co-conspirators. But the indictment did not even include Bobby Davids’s name. It listed all the things he claimed to have done improperly and stated that the executives did these things—or more precisely, “caused them to happen.” We were all facing conspiracy charges that could result in up to fifteen years in prison.
Before the court proceedings, we all had to get booked and fingerprinted by the FBI. Needless to say, that was a first-time experience for all of us.
When we were finally brought together outside the courtroom, it was the first time many of us had seen each other for years. We had built a successful company together and there was still real friendship and camaraderie between us. The attorneys preferred that we not speak to one another, but that just wasn’t going to happen. The scene turned into a reunion with warm handshakes and hugs.
Perhaps the sense of a common enemy brought us even closer together.
Against Randy’s better judgment, but with his permission, I introduced myself to her. She shook my hand, but it was very clear that she didn’t like me very much. It was the first time we had ever met, but she had already built a Mickey Singer inside her head who I’m sure I’d rather not meet.
I lingered in that courtroom for a while and wondered what it had in store for me. These were very unique moments in one’s life—best not to miss them.
A wave of darkness was falling over everything that had been the source of so much light. It was all completely out of my control. I was determined to sit peacefully deep inside and see if it could pass by without affecting my inner state. It was like the early days when I had first started my experiment of letting go in the face of perceived danger. The big difference now was that this danger was way beyond anything I could have ever imagined. It was the perfect storm.
Surrounded by a roomful of criminal defense attorneys, I realized that I was in an amazing situation. I was about to embark on a very personal tour of the American justice system. I knew I had never even thought of doing the things I was accused of. But how was this going to turn out? Would our great system of justice work?
We gained access to the 1.2 million e-mail messages taken during the raid.
It would be five more months before we had any access to the millions of pages of paper documents that had been seized, not to mention the hundreds of thousands of computer files that had been copied during the raid. The government had almost three years to review all this material; it was going to take the defense years to work through it.
Unfortunately, since we had worked with Bobby Davids on a regular basis, there would always be circumstantial evidence that could be exploited to mean whatever you wanted it to mean.
This was the backdrop under which I wrote The Untethered Soul. To the core of my being, I wanted to communicate to others that they were deep inside listening to that voice’s incessant chatter, and there was a way they could be free. That was the work of my life—not this absurd legal mess.
I wanted to share a deep truth that would brighten the lives of others.
Randy was very concerned that the government prosecutors would find a way to use the book against me, as they had been doing with everything else. I told him that I was willing to take that risk. Especially since we had no idea where the case would end up, I needed to get the book published as soon as possible.
Given how everything else in my life was being pulled toward the abyss, it amazed me to see these energies flow so smoothly.
The Untethered Soul was launched in September 2007.
ithout leaving the woods of Alachua, we poured time and money into promoting the book. The results were phenomenal. New Harbinger’s first press run of The Untethered Soul was supposed to last a year—we ran out of books in just three months.
The feedback from everywhere was overwhelming. The Untethered Soul was fulfilling its purpose—it was helping people. In the midst of phenomenal darkness, it was spreading light.
54- The Constitution and the Bill of Rights
The first thing Randy and the defense team did was ask the judge to force the government to cut the scope of the materials down to size. They couldn’t just hand us millions and millions of e-mail messages, documents, and computer files, as well as years of accounting entries, and then say somewhere in there is what you did wrong. If we were going to have a chance of defending ourselves, the claims of wrongdoing needed to be more specific. In legal terms, this is called requesting a “bill of particulars.” The government fought it, but the judge issued an order forcing prosecutors to specify exactly which dealer acquisitions and which accounting entries they were going to present at trial.
The U.S. Department of Justice is one of the most powerful forces in the world. But it is not all-powerful.
I asked Randy what exactly gave us the right to make this demand of the government. I really loved his answer—the Constitution. The Sixth Amendment says, “The accused shall enjoy the right…to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusations.” Supreme Court rulings through the years have interpreted this right to mean that if the disclosure materials presented to you are too broad in scope, you have the right to demand a bill of particulars.
I didn’t tell Randy at the time, but that moved me to the core of my being. For three years I had been sitting quietly deep inside myself watching the powers that be take Bobby’s lies and turn them into a seemingly unstoppable force of destruction. Suddenly, I was reminded that people I’d never met had possessed the caring and foresight to make sure I had rights. If it was going to be the United States of America versus Michael A. Singer, I had some very great people in my corner—Thomas Jefferson, George Mason, and James Madison, to name just a few. Over the next few years, it would become painfully obvious to me that only a single piece of paper stood between me and the dark abyss. That piece of paper was the U.S. Constitution.
I went back and read the Constitution, beginning to end. From the perspective of my predicament, it was so evident that the Founding Fathers were not only creating a government, they were protecting the people from it. I had always known this intellectually, but now it was personal, very personal. This was not a civics course—it was my life. Under these circumstances the Constitution really came alive for me.
I had built and run a beautiful company. We had a great product, great employees, and great clients, and we had been very successful. But underneath the dealer acquisition program, there was filth. It was like looking into a cesspool. Bobby had been stealing, lying, manipulating, and controlling everything in his world—including me and the rest of the executives. It took my breath away to see what he had done. Behind it all was the realization that these meetings were not about what Bobby had done; they were about the fact that he had managed to find a way to make us criminally responsible for what he had done. It was like being in the Twilight Zone. All I could do was keep letting go at the deepest possible level. My mantra was: This Is Reality—Deal with It. I just took the attitude that on my journey through life, I was now part of this excellent legal team that had been pulled together to defend this poor sap, Singer, who had been framed by the evil villain. I took a breath, let go, and contributed positively to the topic being discussed.
The defense team had a full indexing done, and we were finding lots of interesting historical documents. We found early drafts of documents and letters that directly contradicted some of the lies Bobby had told. Little by little we were unraveling the convoluted mess he had created.
t had been more than four years since the raid, and things were finally beginning to look up. I couldn’t have felt more confident in Randy as my lead attorney and as the leading figure in the joint defense group.
Things began to unravel in 2008. Randy informed me on February 7 that he had gone in for a checkup, and they had found a tumor. It was cancerous and they wanted to operate immediately. They ripped open his chest and cut out the tumor. In the midst of the battle, the general was down.
in June 2008 the judge gave us our trial date—February 2, 2009, just seven months away. We had so much work left to do; it really was going to take an army of attorneys.
Halfway to the trial date, Randy’s cancer returned. This time he was going to need eight weeks of very intense chemotherapy and an indeterminate recovery period.
Now, against his doctor’s advice, Randy was seriously considering risking his life by waiting until the trial was over before starting his treatment.
Randy was like a Samurai warrior who had finally been given a battle that was about Honor, Truth, and Justice. He was not about to lay down his sword for a tiny tumor.
Unfortunately, it only took a month for the tumor to progress to the point that there was no longer a decision.
We knew Judge Blatt was adamant that there would not be any extensions of the trial date. Though it was a long shot, Randy requested a three-month extension so that he could represent me at trial. Once again, it was the Constitution that took care of me. The motion filed invoked my Sixth Amendment right to have the assistance of counsel of my choice. Though the government opposed the motion for an extension, it was granted by the judge under the condition that I begin working with another lead attorney in case Randy did not recover in time. With the new trial date set for May 4, 2009, just five months away, Randy began his treatment.
I had been working with Randy for more than five years by then. He had not only been my lead attorney and good friend, but he was also the chief legal strategist for the entire joint defense group. There was no replacing him. Having promised the judge that I would do just that, at least as a backup, I took a deep breath and surrendered to the reality before me: I would have to start working with a new lead attorney.
55- Divine Intervention
With Randy out, the associate attorney, Alex Walsh, would give me the daily updates. I was really impressed with her and could see how Randy’s absence afforded tremendous opportunity for the younger attorneys. I loved seeing that out of this darkness, something great was being forged.
Randy completed his chemotherapy and tried to come back to work right away. But though the therapy was successful, it would take a few months before he got his full strength back. In late March, just one month from trial, we learned that Randy’s recovery period was not our only concern. On March 27, 2009, Judge Blatt announced that because of his age and his health, he was stepping down from the case. We had lost our judge.
Needless to say, given how well Judge Blatt had come to know the case over the last three and half years, and how fair he had been, the prospect of a new judge at the eleventh hour was disheartening. In the midst of the most dangerous situation of my life, the two forces in this world I had come to have the most confidence in to protect me, Randy and Judge Blatt, were both taken away. This amazing sequence of events was so completely out of my control that I had no choice but to surrender at an even deeper level. It seemed like life was finally unfolding in a way that would assure the demise of whatever was left of my personal self—just what I had asked it to do so many years ago.
Finally, unable to find a replacement judge, Judge Norton decided to take the case himself. At a hearing in July, we were given the new trial date of January 18, 2010, which was five months away.
By then Randy was fully back in the saddle, and he found Judge Norton to be very bright, knowledgeable, and impartial. It turned out that Judge Norton’s rulings were very similar to Judge Blatt’s.
Somehow, just four weeks before trial, and six years since the raid, light was dispelling darkness
As suddenly as the whole nightmare had begun—it was over. The government agreed to drop all charges against me.
I didn’t feel joy, and I didn’t feel relief. What I felt was a deep sense of appreciation that in the end, truth triumphed.
On March 1, 2010, the jury gathered back in the courtroom and read the verdict: guilty as charged.
It was very sad. Our legal system had not worked. The truth had not been uncovered, and John Kang and John Sessions awaited sentencing.
On May 27, 2010, almost three months after trial, Judge Norton issued his ruling and dismissed the entire case against John Kang and John Sessions. In that ruling, the judge took the opportunity to again and again chastise the government for what had happened in this case. Among his other complaints, he questioned why the government would keep so many people under indictment for five years and then drop all charges just before trial. Judge Norton pointed out that this had helped drive the pretrial defense cost of the case to more than $190 million.
On January 19, 2011, almost a year after trial, the whole truth and nothing but the truth finally broke through. On that day, when Judge Norton signed his ruling regarding the retrial motion, Jefferson, Mason, and Madison must have breathed a sigh of relief. After two hundred years of interpretations of what they had intended—the system had worked. Truth and Justice would have the final word after all.
It had been more than seven years since Bobby Davids had walked into the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charleston and begun telling his lies.
Judge Norton not only approved the defendants’ motion for a new trial, but in a nineteen-page opinion he tore the government’s case to shreds. He stated that the government had not proven that there was any conspiracy among the executives, but to the contrary, the evidence supported that the executives at Medical Manager believed that the accounting was being done properly. He went on to state that he found the government’s chief witnesses, Bobby and Caroline, to be noncredible, and that Caroline appeared to just be parroting Bobby’s words.
Judge Norton made it clear that he not only had the right to put aside the verdict, he had the obligation. This was the Constitution in its finest hour. It was framed to protect the citizens from their government.
In my eyes, both of the judges in this case are heroes. They showed why our separate branches of government create important checks and balances against one another.
56- Returning to the Beginning
When the smoke cleared, the whirlwind of life had dropped me off exactly where she had picked me up. After forty years, I still lived just down the field from the house I had built when I moved to the woods to meditate.
The foundations of my life had remained completely undisturbed throughout this entire dance with the Universal Flow.
The legal ordeal quickly became a distant memory, almost a dream. It had come and gone, just like everything else. I could clearly see that because I had inwardly surrendered each step of the way, no scars were left on my psyche. It had been like writing on water—the impressions only lasted while the events were actually taking place. Yet in the moment of actual experience, each twist and turn had reached deep inside me and forced me past foundational fears and personal boundaries.
How could I consider this a bad experience when it created such beauty and freedom within me? To the contrary, I stand in awe of all that has happened since I started this amazing experiment of acceptance and surrender.
The flow of life had served as sandpaper that, to a great extent, freed me of myself.
Unable to unbind myself from the incessant pull of my psyche, in an act of sheer desperation, I had thrown myself into the arms of life.
Joy and pain, success and failure, praise and blame—they all had pulled at what was so deeply rooted within me. The more I let go, the freer I became.
It was not my responsibility to find what was binding me; that was life’s job. My responsibility was to willingly let go of whatever was brought up within me.
It soon became obvious that life had provided me the ideal environment in which to write this book. The moment I sat down, the inspiration flowed in like a tidal wave. I began writing what I always knew I would have to write—what happened when I let go.
How could I possibly explain the great freedom that comes from realizing to the depth of your being that life knows what it’s doing? Only direct experience can take you there. At some point there’s no more struggle, just the deep peace that comes from surrendering to a perfection that is beyond your comprehension.
Once you are ready to let go of yourself, life becomes your friend, your teacher, your secret lover. When life’s way becomes your way, all the noise stops, and there is a great peace.
In eternal gratitude for all the experiences we call Life…
MAS, March 2015