Criminal justice advocate Thad Bereday joins Fair Trials’ board

Article by Fair Trials

Fair Trials has welcomed criminal justice advocate Thad Bereday to its board of trustees.

Raised in New York City, Bereday is a former lawyer who graduated in the top of his class from law school then went on to 15 years in private practice, including partner roles, at large global law firms. In 2002, Bereday became the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for WellCare Health Plans, a successful health insurance company based in Tampa, Florida.

WellCare was targeted by the federal government and raided by 200 federal agents in 2007. Following a lengthy investigation, Bereday and four other senior executives were eventually indicted. They pled not guilty and were scheduled for a high-publicity trial, but this was delayed in Thad’s case by the onset of leukaemia. Almost ten years after the raid, facing the risks of trial, Bereday accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to six months in federal prison followed by a year of home confinement. As a result of the criminal proceedings, Bereday lost his job, law license, health, freedom and family. In January 2021, along with the other WellCare executives, Bereday received a full and unconditional presidential pardon. In an accompanying statement issued by the White House, the WellCare prosecution was described as “a case study in overcriminalization.”

Today, Bereday advocates for greater fairness, compassion, and mercy within the criminal legal system. He works tirelessly on criminal justice issues including mass incarceration, re-entry, rehabilitation, and economic opportunities for returning citizens.

Speaking about his appointment to Fair Trials’ board, Bereday said: “Joining Fair Trials is an exciting opportunity to think about criminal justice reform globally. Our talented team brings unique insights about best practices from around the world, and I look forward to helping Fair Trials America advocate for a better balance between justice and mercy in the US criminal legal system.”

Fair Trials’ Chair of trustees, Eric Kolodner welcomed Bereday to the board, saying: “Fair Trials trustees bring a range of expertise and knowledge to help advance the organisation’s vital work to reform criminal justice internationally. Thad is a great addition to the team and we look forward to the fresh perspective on criminal justice that he will bring.”

Chair of Fair Trials America, Amy Jeffress, added: “We welcome Thad to the Fair Trials board.  We will benefit greatly from the insights he has learned from his own experience with the criminal justice system, and we admire the commitment he has made to use that experience to help others.”

Fair Trials’ Global CEO Norman L. Reimer noted that Bereday is uniquely qualified to play a role in delivering Fair Trials’ strategic vision: “The combination of Thad’s extraordinary legal background and his lived experience of the US criminal legal system will help us to ensure that the voices of impacted people inform our policies and campaigns going forward.”

Bereday hosts the Redemption Radio podcast, which explores the criminal justice system through the eyes of a returning citizen. Find out more here

View Fair Trials’ trustees here.