Federal Prosecutors in Lawyer Fraud Case Recommend 145 Year Sentence

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07/17/09

According to a letter sent to Judge Jed. S. Rakoff of the Federal District Court, the prosecutors carefully cited references to the judge's own statements regarding Dreier when he pleaded guilty in May. According to Judge Rakoff, Dreier ''has shown that he is to be ranked with those who have committed some of the most egregious frauds in history,'' and that “he has disgraced the honorable profession of law.''

If the federal prosecutors are successful, Dreier's sentence will be approximately five years less than the sentence prosecutors recommended for Bernard L. Madoff, the Wall Street financier who was charged with 11 felony counts including money laundering, perjury and securities fraud.

In a bid to offset the federal prosecutor's suggested criminal sentence of 145 years, Dreier's lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, recommended a more lenient sentence of 10 to 12 1/2 years. In a letter to the judge, Shargel wrote, ''in seeking some measure of leniency, we appeal not to sympathy but to reason.'' Shargel wrote that his client was ''profoundly remorseful'' and suggested that shorter sentence would be ''both rational and proportionate.'' Shargel also informed the judge that Dreier was cooperating with investigators in their efforts to track down the money.

Shargel also pointed out that the circumstances regarding Madoff sentence were “far out of line'' and “likewise unique and unsuitable for comparison.''

According to government papers issued by the office of Lev. L. Dassin, the acting United States attorney in Manhattan, the lengthy sentence was appropriate because Mr. Dreier had ''orchestrated his fraud “while holding himself out as a legitimate and prominent lawyer.'' He pointed out that New York lawyers and lawyers elsewhere were ''surrounded by the wealth and lifestyles of the clients they serve.''

According to the prosecutors, ''imposing a long term of imprisonment in this case will serve to deter other lawyers who are tempted to steal, cheat or otherwise dishonour their profession to achieve personal wealth.''

In his defence, Mr. Dreier admitted in a letter to the judge that his crimes were ''inexcusable'' and acknowledged that he deserved ''a significant prison sentence.''

Dreier also wrote in his letter that he had ''already been disgraced beyond anything [he] could ever have imagined.'' Dreier acknowledged that he would ''always be remembered as a thief'' despite any good he had done previously. Dreier remarked that ''I lost all my friends. I have lost my law firm, my law license and all that I ever owned. I have seen my family suffer the unimaginable. I have lost my past and my future. I have lost everything a man can lose. And now I will lose my freedom as well and rightly so.''

Despite earning $400,000 annually before turning to crime, Dreier admitted to court investigators that he was envious of others who he perceived had achieved greater success and wasn't satisfied with his life. According to the government, Dreier used a large quantity of the money to pay for his lavish lifestyle that included several beachfront properties in the Hamptons, a luxury apartment on the Upper East Side, luxury cars, a lavish $18 million yacht, and an impressive art collection with pieces totalling more than $6 million.

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