GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Prison consulting is an unregulated business for which some ex-cons and former prison employees charge thousands of dollars.
The service provides inside information to people heading to lockup in order to make life behind bars better. Now a consulting group from West Michigan, RDAP Law Consultants, is facing prison time.
Tony Tuan Pham and Samuel CopenHaver of Grand Rapids, along with Constance Moerland of Hudsonville, are being charged. They’re accused of taking thousands from people and telling them to lie in order to get out early. The early release comes with getting into the Residential Drug Abuse Program, or RDAP.
24 Hour News 8 went to the defendants’ listed addresses in Grand Rapids and Hudsonville, but no one would answer the door. All three are charged with conspiring to defraud the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
“You had me flat out lie and make up stories that were not true and I told you all along that I did not feel comfortable with that,” said a woman who identified herself as Lyn during an alleged recorded phone call with RDAP Law Consultants. “I could not do it.”
“Right,” replied the man on the other end of the line, who said his name was Anh Nguyen – although investigators say his real name is Tony Tuan Pham.
“You are telling me to go get drugs. I told you that I do not feel comfortable doing these things,” said Lyn during the call that was played on a YouTube channel called “RDAP Dan.”
“After I was sentenced, they began calling me. I did not know about prison consulting at that time,” <a href="https://” target=”_blank”>Lyn said during an interview with “RDAP Dan.”
Lyn claims she gave the company $3,000 to reduce her prison sentence. The indictment out of Connecticut alleges the consultation company told clients to tell the Bureau of Prisons a list of six things, including that they drink every day, that alcohol is an important part of their life and that they can’t sleep or think without it.
“These six things were the things he wanted me to incorporate into a story and I had to rehearse with him,” said Lyn in the interview on the YouTube channel.
The indictment has allegations that the company sent videos to clients to show them how to display symptoms of withdrawal, and told them to drink before arriving at prison and to bring a bottle of pills with them. The indictment also says the company told clients that they can’t be honest and if they are honest, they won’t get into the program.
“I feel bullied by them,” Lyn said during the YouTube interview. “I feel preyed upon by them at my lowest point in my life.”
The charges are from out of state. The Michigan Department of Corrections says there is no opportunity for early release to attend a substance abuse program in Michigan.
The three defendants are awaiting trial. Jury selection is scheduled for April 4, but that will likely change.