"Lawyer Pleads Guilty to Running Ponzi Scheme
A prominent New York lawyer whom prosecutors have called a “Houdini of impersonation and false documents” pleaded guilty on Monday to leading what the authorities have called a Ponzi scheme that bilked hedge funds and other investors out of at least $400 million.
He then used the proceeds to maintain a lavish lifestyle, according to the authorities, which included owning a $10 million apartment on the Upper East Side, beachfront properties in the Hamptons, a valuable art collection, expensive cars and an $18.5 million yacht, documents show.
“He has disgraced the honorable profession of law,” the judge, Jed S. Rakoff of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said after Mr. Dreier entered his plea.
His decision to admit guilt was not a surprise, as his lawyer, Gerald L. Shargel, had been saying for months that his client intended to plead guilty. Last month, Mr. Shargel told Judge Rakoff that Mr. Dreier felt “profound remorse,” accepted full responsibility for his crimes and had been cooperating with the authorities as they attempted to untangle his scheme and track down assets that might be returned to victims.
But Mr. Shargel and a federal prosecutor, Jonathan R. Streeter, clashed over whether Mr. Dreier, who turns 59 on Tuesday and could face up to life in prison, should be allowed to remain in his Manhattan apartment under highly restrictive conditions of home detention until he is sentenced on July 13.
“There are 100 good reasons why Mr. Dreier should be” jailed, Judge Rakoff said. “By his own admission here today, he has shown that he is to be ranked with those who have committed some of the most egregious frauds in history.”
But Judge Rakoff ultimately ruled that Mr. Shargel had met the legal standard for his client to remain out of jail, by demonstrating that Mr. Dreier, who no longer controls the millions of dollars he obtained, had neither the ability nor the resources to flee."