Last night, on the eve of his 59th birthday, lawyer Marc Dreier pleaded guilty to running an investment fraud that cheated investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars. “I understand that everything I was doing was illegal,” said Dreier, whose crime — in which he utilized multiple cell phones, fake identities, and forged promissory notes — might have been the biggest and most outrageous New York had ever seen were he not overshadowed by Bernie Madoff, who turned himself in just days after Dreier was arrested, effectively stealing his thunder. In this morning's coverage of the proceedings, the Times did not miss a chance to rub this in:
Prosecutors are seeking about $700 million in forfeiture from Mr. Dreier, whose large losses still pale next to those of the admitted swindler Bernard L. Madoff, whose enormous Ponzi scheme involved an estimated $65 billion.
But Dreier is still a formidably awful human being, prosecutors took care to note.
True, he's not technically as bad as Madoff, but:
"We rarely encounter a less appealing beneficiary of bail," Judge Jed Rakoff said of the grizzled attorney, pointing to the fact that Dreier posted $10 million in bail, ostensibly of his investors' money, which he has used to continue to live in his luxury triplex despite the fact that (according to his attorney) he is otherwise so broke that his college-student son has been forced to use his bar mitzvah money to feed him. And so the judge bestowed upon him an honor that has thus far eluded Dreier: “[Dreier] has shown that he is to be ranked with those who have committed some of the most egregious frauds in history.” At last: recognition.