T.D. El-Amin pleaded guilty to bribery in 2009. He admitted accepting a $2,100 bribe from a local businessman.
After serving more than a year in prison, El-Amin is now on the comeback trail trying to find a new career as a radio show host on WGNU 920, and as a writer. Most of us love a comeback, although it remains to be seen if El-Amin will become a popular personality. El-Amin still struggles with explaining why he accepted the bribe. He uses words like "stupidity" and "lack of judgement," but he fails to provide details and understandably is much more interested in talking about his new radio show and unpublished novel.
Before El-Amin was charged with bribery, I found him to be a smart, well-spoken and passionate advocate who looked like he was going to have a bright future in the community. I was stunned when he was busted. As I told him during our interview, "You betrayed the trust of a lot of people." "I did," he answered. Frankly, I also felt betrayed by him. I can't begin to imagine how his wife or children felt.
Former state senator Jeff Smith was an even brighter rising star in Missouri politics. He did prison time for lying to the feds about his role in political dirty tricks. Smith quickly embraced the value of coming clean and even got a friend to post tweets in Smith's name to a Twitter account while he was in prison. Recently, he wrote an article for Inc. Magazine about the business geniuses he met in prison. The article is fascinating and shows that Smith appreciates his experiences, doesn't run from them, and has found a way to use his prison time to not only educate the public, but also bring his name back in a way that may help his comeback.
El-Amin will have to find his own road back to becoming an important voice for the community. That road must be paved with good intentions, honesty and commitment. WGNU seems like a good place to start.
The rest is up to him.