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Wharton | Ms. Strategy & Marketing Roles
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Yale | Mr. Lawyer Turned Consultant
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Once A Promising Stanford MBA, He Now Faces Prison

The southbound stretch of U.S. Highway 101 near where Zachary Katz, driving the wrong way, collided head-on with an SUV cab, killing one and injuring two


Public comments on a story about the Katz case at Palo Alto Online revealed the raw emotions common in cases involving fatalities, but also a surprising level of support for Katz and his defense of a medical emergency that led to the crash. In a comment that garnered 212 “likes,” one anonymous resident of East Palo Alto said that while it’s tragic a life was lost, “truth be told people do have severe quite medical issues that can cause problems! Through the grace of god go I!” The commenter went on to note how two of the victims were not wearing seatbelts, asking, “What happened to seat belt laws?”

Others were less sympathetic. “Yes, people do have medical issues while driving sometimes (not often). But being drunk and driving the wrong way is not a medical issue at all. It’s a criminal act,” wrote “ndn,” a resident of Downtown North, who added that he was fine with a sentence of 12 years, the maximum Katz faces. Another commenter, “Ryan,” insisted, “The facts are that Mr. Katz was intoxicated and decided to get behind of the wheel of a car, which led to the death of one individual and two others being injured. For that reason (despite procedural issues, random other medical ‘issues’ and whether the individuals were wearing seat belts), he was found guilty and should be held responsible for his actions.”

And in a comment at Amazon.com below the blurb for his book, Century Village, “Pedro Soul” alleged a lack of contrition on Katz’s part: “When this book was written, it was a sad scribble to save face on his deed. Similar to his Facebook posts that have since disappeared, this book was meant to improve popular opinion — he had shown no remorse and this book (and his everyday deeds while he was free prancing around New York City) attested to that. …

“Zak will probably write a more compelling book while he spends time in the slammer. Until then, perhaps he should focus more on a rite (of) contrition instead of a book about his Harvard education via sweatshirts that will not do him good with inmates in state prison.”


This Friday, when he is again escorted into a San Mateo courtroom, Katz will finally be sentenced for his actions that night in October 2013. He’s looking at a maximum 12 years in prison (though prosecutors are seeking nine years). Added to whatever sentence he receives will be a lifetime of remorse, and the ruins of a once-promising career.

“I think there’s a lot of anger around this case,” Katz said under oath. “I lost a lot of friends after this happened because people judged me guilty before they understand — understood there might have been other circumstances, and, you know, the burden came on me to try to, you know, understand and instead of it being the, you know, a need for guilty proven or for guilty proven, it became a need for innocence to be proven.

“And I would put Sam (Grossberg) in a very large bucket of people who more or less cut off contact with me after this incident because the, you know, the occurrences of the night just were not something they were willing to process or fathom or talk through.”