A former executive at a New York investment bank who admitted defrauding investors of more than $38 million was sentenced to four years in prison Friday by a judge who cited his gambling addiction as reason for leniency. "I chose gambling over everything," Andrew Caspersen, 40, told US District Judge Jed Rakoff in Manhattan. In July, he pleaded guilty to securities and wire fraud, admitting defrauding mostly family and friends of more than $38 million as he worked for PJT Partners Inc., which he also defrauded of over $8 million, the AP reports. Prosecuters said the scam involved an "elaborate scheme involving made-up private equity ventures, fake mail addresses, and fictional financiers."
"I lost their money. I abused their friendship. I destroyed my family's name," said the son of the late Finn M.W. Caspersen, a prominent philanthropist and former chief executive of Beneficial Corp. Still, Caspersen packed the courtroom with family and friends as well as members of organizations he has joined to fight alcohol and gambling addictions. Many of them argued for leniency in letters to the judge, who credited Caspersen's "very real gambling disorder" as he imposed a prison term that fell well short of the 15 years called for by sentencing guidelines. A defense attorney said his client was so overtaken by the "madness" of his gambling illness that he hit a high of over $100 million one day and bet it all the next on whether the market would go up or down, leaving him with almost nothing. (Read more securities fraud stories.)