CALABASAS (CBSLA)  — Celebrities who run afoul of the law risk being put behind bars just like the general public.

The transition for people used to champagne and caviar is especially jarring.

Scores of rich and famous celebrities and business executives and CEOs are currently caught up in the college admissions cheating scandal.

KCAL9’s Tom Wait spoke to Justin Paperny — formally known as a federal prison consultant — Thursday evening.

Paperny is a prison coach — he helps the rich and famous make that transition.

And knows about the transition first hand. He’s served time.

He told Wait the first thing the rich should do in this college case is show some contrition and admit guilt. Fighting the charges, he believes, will only get them more time behind bars.

“It doesn’t have to define their life,” he says. “They’re going to have to begin to make  some very principled decisions. including — and most likely — accepting responsibility and apologizing.”

Paperny went to USC and was a successful stock broker. But ten years ago, he found himself on the wrong side of the law. He ended up in federal prison on a fraud charge.

Since his release, he’s devoted his life to coaching others who have been charged with white-collar crimes.

“I made all of these bad decisions,” says Paperny, “which led me to going to prison.”

Paperny says how much time the rich and powerful now being accused of wrong-doing in the college admissions scandal might depend on their actions now.

“Some of them are going to accept responsibility much quicker than others,” Paperny says. “And when you look at sentences down the road, the defendants that accepted responsibility quickest, the ones that said ‘I’m sorry,’ that worked to make amends, that is working to create a new record, that owns it, you’re going to find that they get better outcomes than those who are saying they’re going to go to trial or who are very defiant in the press.”

Paperny says one of the people involved in the college cheating case has already reached out to him.

The first question people ask, he says, is “what is prison like?”

He tells them, “it is a humbling reality  — as you do some of the prison jobs, for example, scrubbing the showers and toilets.”

Paperny says it is also possible that the celebrities and rich people get locked up with criminals with violent pasts.

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