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Beating the System

How five entrepreneurs did it--but you didn't hear it from us.

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This story appears in the May 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Now that we've got your attention, we have to confess: The title of this story is a little misleading. You should never try to beat The System.It will always win. If threatens to bury you, remember: The System is all-powerful and all-knowing. You can beat an egg, beat around the bush, or, at the risk of beating a dead horse, you can be upbeat.But if you're thinking of beating The System, think again--or at least think differently: "We tell our clients how to manipulate the system," stresses Frank Sweeney, "and to live as pleasantly as they can."

Sweeney would know. He spent a lifetime trying to beat The System, beginning with a botched bank robbery at age 18. Even while doing 23 years in federal , Sweeney was beating the system, or cheating the system, by doing everything from pretending he was Jewish to get the "sumptuous" Kosher meals to feigning so he could be allowed a private cell. Now the 55-year-old runs Frank A. Sweeney & Associates and is legally beating--er, manipulating--the system. His Tenafly, , firm advises federal prisoners on how to survive the Big House.

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