Ex-jailbird judge helps prepare new prisoners

Former Miami-Dade County Judge Harvey Shenberg‘s new venture: Prison Planning, a consulting firm that offers advice and hand-holding to those facing incarceration.

Shenberg, 67, is well qualified. He served nearly 11 years for racketeering conspiracy and extortion in the Operation Court Broom judicial corruption scandal. His career self-destructed in ’91: The feds had him on video, shirttail hanging out after stuffing a $25,000 bribe into the seat of his pants.

“I was a pretty good defense lawyer and a pretty good judge,” Shenberg says ruefully. “I wasn’t much of a criminal.”

Shenberg did time in Miami, Yazoo City, Miss., and the Atlanta penitentiary’s satellite camp. He got out of custody in 2008.

Shenberg’s firm addresses defendant and inmate questions: the surrender; safety concerns; what to tell the kids; how a commissary works.

Fee range: $300 to $750 for a phone consult, $1,500 for a face-to-face; and up to $10,000 to see a client from indictment to release.

“It’s a lot more than just preparing the inmate,” Shenberg explains. “The family does the time with the inmate, even though they’re not inside.”

He solicits business through attorneys and prisonplanning.com. Shenberg runs the operation from his condo in Phoenix. He says his mother, Ruth Regina Panken, still works at 92 — she owns Ruth Regina Wigs in Bay Harbor Islands.

Says Shenberg: “I’ve done my time. Losing freedom is a terrible thing. We’re trying to make the best out of something that was a bad situation.”


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