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New York lawyer pleads guilty in $400 million investment scheme

[JURIST] New York lawyer Mark Dreier pleaded guilty Monday in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] to fraud charges for perpetrating a scheme that cost investors more than $400 million. Appearing before Judge Jed Rakoff, Dreier pleaded guilty [WSJ report] to charges of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, securities fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering, admitting that he knew that what he was doing was illegal. Rakoff said that Dreier was a disgrace to the legal profession [AP report]. Despite arguments from the prosecution that Dreier should be immediately incarcerated, Rakoff allowed Dreier to remain under house arrest at his Manhattan apartment until sentencing in two months. The guilty plea was not pursuant to any plea agreement, and Dreier faces up to life in prison.

Dreier, the founder and managing partner of New York-based law firm Dreier LLP, was arrested [DOJ press release] in New York in December after being arrested and then released in Canada. He was charged with one count of securities fraud and one count of wire fraud. A superseding indictment [DOJ press release] filed in March charged him with one count of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud, one count of securities fraud, five counts of wire fraud, and one count of money laundering. Dreier's arrest came shortly before the arrest of financier Bernard Madoff [JURIST report], who was accused of perpetrating a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud charges [JURIST report] in March.

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