In a breaking voice, former Wall Street executive Andrew W.W. Caspersen Wednesday admitted he bilked millions of dollars from relatives, friends and his former employer in a Ponzi-like scheme, all to feed a powerful gambling urge.
As a result, the 39-year-old former Park Hill Group partner faces the likelihood of more than a decade in prison, along with fines and restitution his defense attorney said he lacks the means to pay.
“I told family members and friends that a private equity firm had given me an allocation in a practically riskless debt instrument,” Caspersen said as he pleaded guilty to securities fraud and wire fraud before U.S. District Court Judge Jed Rakoff. “There was no real investment opportunity; it was just a way for me to get money to feed a gambling addition that was all consuming at the time.”
“The people I harmed were people I cared for the most,” added Caspersen. “I could not be more sorry or ashamed for my crimes.”
Under federal sentencing guidelines, the disgraced executive could face up to 40 years in prison and tens of millions of dollars in fines and restitution. However, federal prosecutors and Caspersen’s defense lawyer stipulated to an agreement that could subject him to roughly 12 1/2 years to 15 1/2 years behind bars.
The stipulation also calls for Caspersen to forfeit nearly $45.2 million, including proceeds from the sale of a six-bedroom family home in Bronxville, N.Y., an upscale New York City suburb, and rights to a co-operative apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
The sentencing decision lies with Rakoff, who said he was “not particularly affected by guideline calculations,” and declared his view that they “border on the irrational.” The judge scheduled a Nov. 2 sentencing date.
Caspersen’s decision to withdraw an earlier not-guilty plea and admit his crimes marked the latest development in the downfall of a businessman who grew up in a wealthy family and graduated from Princeton University and Harvard University’s law school before following in his father’s footsteps to a career in the financial world.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement that plea change “closes a sad chapter in a tale of deception and betrayal.”
“Parlaying his privileged background, Caspersen concocted a wild fraud scheme that involved made-up private equity ventures, fake email addresses, and fictional financiers. Through a litany of lies, Caspersen took millions from unwitting investors, including some of his own family and friends,” said Bharara.
Source: USA Today | Kevin McCoy