$700 Million Fraudster Lawyer Gets Modest 20-Year Sentence

Marc S. Dreier, who pretended to be different people to sell fake promissory notes and other securities to suckers, ripping them off for over $700 million, must have done a pretty good impression of a repentant sinner during his trial, because yesterday the judge sentenced him to a measly 20 years. He will also have to make restitution and forfeit $746 million as a penalty. Prosecutors had asked for a Madoff-style sentence of 145 years, but the judge said Dreier was not Madoff "from any analysis."

Actually Dreier was much bolder in his crimes than Madoff; while Madoff just glad-handed his victims, Dreier impersonated officers of other companies in meetings, and sold fake notes from the companies he pretended to represent.

In furtherance of this scam he often conned his way into the businesses with whom he was pretending to be associated, and used their conference rooms to meet his victims. He was caught in December when he tried this scam at a Toronto pension fund meeting and the guy he was pretending to be walked into the room.

Personality-wise, Dreier has been described as "Gatsby without the charm." Nonetheless, unlike Madoff, who was eventually remanded to jail during his trial, Dreier managed to maintain his house arrest arrangement with the law right up until his sentencing.

We are no draconians, but 20 years seems light, especially when we imagine Dreier tottering out of prison after a parole-shortened term to enjoy whatever money his criminal genius has managed to conceal from investigators.

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