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White-Collar Crime

Attorney Marc Dreier Says Midlife Crisis, Sense of Failure Drove Massive Fraud

Posted Sep 29, 2009 4:28 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Marc Dreier admits he had a lengthy track record of "cutting corners." But it wasn't until an apparent midlife crisis, precipitated by his divorce and a sense of failure, when he compared his own life to the noteworthy success some of his well-educated, well-to-do peers had achieved, that the 50-something New York attorney considered outright fraud to achieve the luxe life and accolades he yearned for.

One day in 2003, the 1975 Harvard Law School graduate spotted a palatial waterfront home while walking near his inland vacation home in Westhampton Beach, N.Y., and realized he had to have one like it, he tells Vanity Fair.

Within another year or so, Dreier was starting to add dozens of highly paid lawyers to the Park Avenue law firm he operated under his name as the sole equity partner. The expansion of his law firm, as well as his move to a better beach house, apparently was financed with the help of hundreds of millions of dollars Dreier made by selling bogus promissory notes to sophisticated institutional investors.

The fraud, which Dreier describes in detail in the lengthy magazine article, bought him a few years at the seeming acme of success. But he is now serving a 20-year federal prison term.

"People who are following a certain path, who go to the right schools, who do the right things. … You can still lose your way. In a terrible way. As I did,” he says.

Hat tip: Above the Law.

Related earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Auction of Dreier’s Home Offers View of Disgraced N.Y. Lawyer’s Luxe Lifestyle"

ABAJournal.com: "Dreier’s High-Adrenaline Life on the Edge"

ABAJournal.com: "Law Firm’s ‘Boy Wonder’ Took $30M, But Exactly Why Still Isn’t Clear"

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