Dear Goldman Sachs,
So, you've been caught cheating. You sorta committed fraud, kinda misled investors, maybe accelerated the financial collapse. Don't panic. It's going to be alright. You're going to survive. Let the Great Cheaters show you how.
First, apply the Five Stages of Grief to the grief of getting caught:
DENIAL: "We don't know what you're talking about and we didn't do it."
ANGER: "We said We Didn't Do It!!"
BARGAINING: "Oh, come onnnnn..."
DEPRESSION: "We're upset you'd even think we did it."
ACCEPTANCE: "It was Geithner!"
That's right, blame others. Juiced ballplayers blame wives, trainers, nannies, agents, and deals with the Devil, a.k.a. Steinbrenner. Lehman's, Richard Fuld, said it was the media, short-sellers, the government, and a bank run, and Enron's Ken Lay blamed everybody from co-workers to Arthur Andersen, The Wall Street Journal, and a "witch hunt," which might explain why Federal Prosecutor Sean Berkowitz turned into a newt.
Consider these popular scapegoats: Alcoholism, Hurricane Katrina, 9/11, Child Abuse, OxyContin, Sarbanes-Oxley, Osama Bin Laden, the BCS, and the Senior VP of Scapegoating.
You'll also need to win in the Court of Public Ignorance, er, Opinion. Make a teary confession praising family, faith, and the flag. Change your name, ala Blackwater, Philip Morris, and Diebold. Jump up and down on Oprah's couch.
Spin this thing: Goldman, just like Nixon ("When the president does it, that means it's not illegal"), Belichick ("I misinterpreted the rules"), and Eve ("The snake made me do it"). You weren't "Liars who profited from a secretive and unregulated market," you were "Hedging your investments."
Get ahead of the news and investigate yourself. Apple, Merck, Charles Rangel, the College Board, Hewlett-Packard, Major League Baseball, and the Women's Tennis Association have "investigated" everything from backdating options to drug marketing, campaign financing, steroids, and the overuse of beautiful Russian women. It's like getting pulled over and, when the officer asks, "Any idea how fast your were going?" You just reply, "No, but I'll look into it. Thanks."
As the trial approaches, destroy the evidence. Like Arthur Andersen's Shredder Department and the CIA's Bureau of Videotape Smashing, you, too, should "accidentally" get rid of anything incriminating. Aren't John Paulson and Fabrice Tourre about to "fall down the stairs?"
Spare no expense on your defense. Hire the slickest legal minds, the dirtiest private investigators, the most-soulless of publicists. When they're not over-billing you, lawyers excel at delay, loopholes, and redefining "reasonable." Plus, lawyers usually defend murderers and rapists: You'll be a slight upgrade.
Frankly, I'm surprised the S.E.C. even filed charges. Most authorities lack the resources, energy, time, motivation, and ability to pursue geniuses like you. The rest usually worked for you or need your campaign donations.
Nonetheless, someone over there clearly watched too many reruns of The Untouchables. You need to counter-attack. Previous anti-fraud crusaders -- Eliot Spitzer, William Lerach, Richard Scruggs -- were taken out by seemingly random scandals. Were they set up? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm not saying you should entrap your tormentors, but I'm also not saying you shouldn't.
Once Tiger makes the news again (here's hoping he hooks up with Sandra Bullock's husband), you can probably just settle this thing for a small fine or a "monitoring agreement," which might dent, oh, two percent of what we know you've cheated.
If, somehow, you do go to trial, consider these brilliant, imaginative, and real legal arguments:
• WorldCom CEO Bernie Ebbers' claimed not to know what was going on, a move that became known as the "Ah Shucks defense," which, of course, was pioneered in the 1956 case of Wally v. The Beaver.
• Attorneys for another corporate cheater labeled an opposition witness a "greedy coward acting purely in self-interest." They should've added, "Isn't it true, Mr. Kettle, that, as my client Mr. Pot said, you are indeed black?"
• When an email from Jeff Skilling, Enron CEO, declared "Shred the documents, they're on to us," he said, under oath, that he was "Just being sarcastic." Use that.
Convicted? At worst you'll go to minimum security, white-collar prison, where -- though the caviar's not Beluga and the Chardonnay's from Oregon -- it's barely punishment. Heck, you didn't do anything serious, you just ruined thousands of lives. It's not like you robbed a 7-11 to feed your family, right?
Can't even do Country Club Oz? Google "countries without extradition treaties" and run beyond the reach of the long, flabby arm of the law. Comverse's Kobi Alexander and Wesley Snipes are among those who fled to Namibia and Lou Pearlman checked into a Bali hotel under the subtle name "A. Incognito Johnson." Really.
Finally, Goldman, you've got three options of last resort. 1) Fake your own death. 2) Buy yourself a Presidential pardon. Or, 3) Think outside the box: You cheated yourself billions, are you telling me you can't afford a clone?
For more cheating advice, you know how to reach me, and I know what you can afford.
Jeff Kreisler is an award-winning comedian and author of HarperCollins' "Get Rich Cheating."
"You'll be laughing all the way to the bank, assuming other cheaters haven't forced it into bankruptcy yet." - Rachel Maddow
"Catcher in the Rye for evildoers" - Penthouse Magazine
"A very funny book with a very timely message." - Terry Jones (Monty Python)
Daily cheats, videos, and more on http://GetRichCheating.com