A few weeks ago, I went to the sentencing of Justin Costello at the U.S. District Court in Seattle.
If you recall, he was the cannabis industry scammer based here in Seattle who used every trick in the book and every lie he could think up to take good honest people for their money.
After numerous victims came forth at the sentencing and didn’t hold back on their scathing remarks and obvious contempt for Costello, the judge gave him 144 months in prison. I’m told because the charges were federal it means a minimum of 8 years behind bars.
It was sad to hear some of the remarks made from Costello’s victims. Most lost a lot of money and spoke about how they had trusted him, thought of him as a friend and even welcomed him into their homes for dinner and socializing.
Costello fits the description of a textbook narcissist. The type who cares little about others, has no remorse, and will go to great lengths to disguise the real him while bragging about — and lying about — all his great accomplishments (read more about his crimes on Page 70). After being in this industry as an observer for nearly 10 years, I’m sorry to say that his type is not particularly rare. I can recall numerous talks I heard at early cannabis business conferences in which it was obvious the speaker was a blowhard whose main goal was to suck in investors who believed that growing or selling cannabis was an easy way to instant riches.
As many now know, this business is the same as just about every other business in the capitalist world. The winners are always those with sound business models, a strong work ethic and unending energy to make things happen. There is never a free lunch anywhere in business. Short of hitting the lottery (and the lottery is a waste of money), success in life comes down to hard work and lots of elbow grease.
What I always find unbelievable with folks like Costello (and Bernie Madoff, Donald Trump, Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.) is that they actually seem to believe their own crap. I’m not sure how that happens, but as their followers and investors grow, it seems as if they really do begin to believe the garbage they feed their flock.
Most of us sensible types shake their heads and wonder how a guy like Trump can actually convince people the election was stolen (or that he wasn’t trying to interfere in Georgia, or that he didn’t realize he was in possession of top-secret government documents, or … ), but in the end, it probably comes down to Trump believing it himself.
In other words, Trump — like Costello — probably thinks his shit don’t stink, and has managed to convince himself that he’s above the law, smarter than the rest of us, and somehow deserving of special treatment. Sorry bud, but you’re just another crook, not much different than Costello, Madoff, Roger Stone, Paul Manafort and a host of other jerks who manage to fool some of us some of the time, but not all of us all of the time!
Thankfully, Justin Costello will face prison for his crimes. Hopefully Trump will too.
Remember, in business, politics and life in general, never just take someone at face value and if something sounds too good to be true — like Mexico paying for a border wall or a billionaire you’ve never heard of promising to solve all of your cannabis banking problems — it’s probably a con.