Case Study

Anthony Nelson: From 51-63 Months to 25 Months


Reduction in Sentence



Rehabilitation and Future Focused

Growing up in Washington D.C., I attended the prestigious Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, marched in the Macy’s Day Parade, and played football in the conference finals. I helped my mother pay the bills by working at the DC Housing Authority and as a site technician for EYA Construction. Unfortunately, I also struggled with substance abuse issues, particularly with “lean”—a liquid opiate mixture.

At age 25, I survived a gunshot wound during an armed robbery attempt. Struggling with PTSD, I moved to Montgomery County and started selling sneakers online while abusing “lean” to medicate my negative feelings. During this period, I participated in a bank fraud conspiracy with new acquaintances in Maryland. I later accepted responsibility and pled guilty in federal court.

When I agreed to participate in the bank fraud conspiracy, I had no idea how big it was. I was shocked when the story first came out in the press. I saw all the other defendants in the newspaper and read about the whole case. I felt like my life was coming to an end. It was like I was suddenly living in another world.

A few months after my case began, I discovered White Collar Advice (WCA) videos on YouTube. Immediately, I felt relieved to have supportive experts in my corner. I had multiple conversations with Brad Rouse over many months. I vividly remember one conversation on the way to New York for a court appearance. Brad talked about his experience going through the system and overcoming addiction, which was very helpful.

I worked with WCA to prepare a personal narrative, giving me a chance to take responsibility for my actions and apologize to those I harmed. The narrative allowed the judge to see how this case fit into my whole life story, including my substance abuse history and love for my daughter. I was very happy with the personal narrative. It really helped to see my whole life put together like that. I got a new perspective. I would definitely recommend this process to someone in a similar situation.

I arrived at my sentencing hearing expecting a prison term of 51-63 months. I brought a statement I drafted with help from the WCA team, including a heartfelt apology for violating my supervised release right before sentencing. Having that statement gave me courage during the hearing and made me feel like I came prepared to face everything.

The judge complimented my personal narrative, noting that she didn’t see something like that very often. She listened to my final statement and then announced her decision: a sentence of 25 months plus acceptance into the Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP). The judge also allowed me to self-surrender after the holidays. The narrative made a significant impact on the judge, who mentioned it several times during the sentencing.

I survived a gunshot wound and a federal prosecution. With WCA’s help, I’m focused on steps I can take to prepare for a great life after prison. The RDAP program will give me a chance to learn how to stay sober from drugs and alcohol. I’m doing everything possible to turn this difficult moment into an opportunity for growth.

I feel optimistic about the future. I plan on using my computer skills to build my sneaker business and accomplish anything I set my mind to. My talks with Brad also inspired me to use my experiences to help other people in the future. I definitely want to do that.