Marc Dreier: ‘I Just Lost My Mind’

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Photo: Patrick McMullan

Marc Dreier has been beaten by Bernie Madoff every step of the way. When news of the Park Avenue lawyer's $400 million Ponzi scheme broke back in December, he had a mere two days to revel in being the hugest Ponzi-schemer ever before Bernie's $67 billion fraud belly-flopped into the news cycle and blew him out of the pool, and it is Bernie who has remained the Face of Ponzi ever since. And today the government delivered another blow to Dreier, by recommending that a federal judge due to sentence him next week impose a 145-year sentence, five years less than what Bernie got. Burn. Dreier is beating Bernie on the public-contrition front, though. Along with a plea for leniency, lawyers submitted a four-page personal letter from Dreier himself. It doesn't give much insight into his crime, but it is a fascinating peek into his psyche. As it turns out, for Dreier, along with everyone else, hindsight is 20/20.

"As I sit here today, I can't remember or imagine why I didn't stop myself. It all seems so obviously deplorable now. I felt only that I was desperate for some measure of the success I had felt eluded me. I felt my law firm was the last chance I had to make a mark for myself, and I was fearful of seeing it all fail. I know of course that this amounted to nothing more than self-pity, but this was my state of mind when I became a criminal. I gave in to being overwhelmed by the anxieties of life that we are all expected to cope with every day, and most people do, but I just could not manage to do so. I had no one close to me with whom I could talk. I had isolated myself, both personally and professionally. I lost my sense of moral grounding and really, in a sense, I just lost my mind."


We almost empathize with him. Life: It sure can be "overwhelming." Of course, it gets much worse when you're trying to manage a $400 million Ponzi scheme.

U.S. Seeks 145-Year Sentence for Lawyer in Fraud Case [City Room/NYT]