My Journey to Prison A Story of Failure, Struggle, Discipline, and Gratitude

Caught up in the DOJ net for Medicare fraud, Dr. John Teal, previously licensed as a psychologist in Mississippi and a medical psychologist in Louisiana, shares his journey,
challenges, and spiritual strengthening in My Journey to Prison: A Story of Failure, Struggle, Discipline, and Gratitude.

The book is about his experiences in prison––his observations about relationships between the inmates and his reflections on his life and faith. Teal’s writing has been said to be from the heart and him to be a genuinely caring, humble man. The book
includes his journey of faith and a time where his own spiritual discipline brought him to the other side of a traumatic, life changing experience.

In his introduction, Dr. Teal describes how he was hit broadside with the indictment.

“Suddenly I heard the buzz of my phone,” he writes. “As I looked down and saw this name on my phone, it occurred to me that he and I had not communicated, other than occasional casual texting, for quite some time. I felt a tingle of anxiety to see the attorney for Company X calling me without having texted first, but I tried to suppress my concerns as I answered the call.

“Hey Mr. Lester,” I said.

“Hey John. This is Peter Lester” […] ” I’m calling to let you know that you have been indicted.”

Dr. Teal writes about how he experienced a deep wave of anxiety and dread. He goes on to explain that he knew nothing of the accounting had company X but begins to see how his own ignorance may have come to be his most important problem.

In a fascinating description of his interactions with DOJ prosecutors, he lets us know how it feels to be targeted. Teal agrees to meet with the federal prosecutor who is willing to show him and his attorney the evidence against Teal.

“On December 16, 2015, an in person meeting at the federal building in New Orleans was scheduled for Mr. Palmer and I. Mr. Simpson [an attorney for the defense] was also present, and I did not say a word. There were several other serious looking FBI agents sitting around the conference table as well, but they rarely spoke either. On the table, there were tall stacks of paper and several ring binder notebooks with ‘TEAL’ emblazoned in bold on the front and along the side of them.

“Mr. Palmer laid out the case against me. He covered lots of material in that meeting. Most of it made sense to me. Some of it did not. The overriding point was that while I worked for Company X, I over-billed for services that were provided. ‘You were famous!” he said, referring to this overbilling. There were other points, but the main one was over billing and the subsequent inappropriately high amount of money that was reimbursed as a result. Mr. Palmer’s presentation was abrasive and aggressive. He pointed his finger directly at me and repeatedly stated ‘Fraud! Fraud! Fraud!’ and he continued, ‘If
you go to trial you will be found guilty of fraud, and you will go to prison!”

“As I listened to Mr. Palmer, I felt defensive, but I found a strange refuge in not being expected to speak. His strategy was clearly to scare the living shit out of me, and to assure me that I had no chance at all of winning the case in court.”

Dr. Teal continues to explain the inner turmoil and confusion he experienced in being indicted and prosecuted, and the difficult decisions he had to make to survive emotionally.

According to the publisher’s page: “John A. Teal grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. This birthplace was formative for him in that it was a central hub of racial integration in the country. Shortly before he was born, his parents moved to Mississippi from various places northward, with the goal of improving race relations. His father taught Physics at Tougaloo College, a private historically black college, for his entire professional career.

“Because of John’s parents’ worthy pursuit as well as their cultural backgrounds, he grew up with a mixture of liberal minded social justice and theologically conservative Lutheran Christianity. This interesting mixture served to engender within John a balance between the need for thoughtful consideration and action.

“John is an avid runner and he loves to pick on the acoustic guitar.

“Professionally, John became a clinical psychologist and worked for a few years in a state hospital and private practice.”

Dr. Teal’s book is available on Amazon.

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