New York, NY(Law Firm Newswire) December 16, 2016 – The scion of a wealthy business family was sentenced to four years in prison for securities fraud.
Andrew Caspersen, 40, used a Ponzi-like scheme to steal around $38.5 million from investors including family members, friends, clients and a hedge fund-linked charitable foundation. He was arrested in March at La Guardia Airport upon returning from a family vacation. Caspersen pleaded guilty to fraud charges in July.
The case was filed in U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York. Prosecutors originally sought a tougher prison sentence of over 15 years. However, Caspersen’s attorney asked for leniency citing a possible gambling addiction.
“An unusual defense was used in this case to show that an external factor may have contributed to the defendant losing his own money and defrauding others,” said Peter Brill, a New York City criminal defense attorney with Brill Legal Group, who is not involved with the case. “Imposing an unreasonably harsh prison sentence in such circumstances does not make sense.”
Caspersen’s attorney presented evidence to show the Wall Street executive was suffering from a gambling addiction that compelled him to trade stock options. Before sentencing, the judge heard testimony from Dr. Marc Potenza, a mental health expert and psychiatry professor at Yale University School of Medicine.
Since 2013 Caspersen had worked at Park Hill Group, a division of investment bank PJT Partners. Prosecutors said Caspersen started trying to persuade people to invest in his fraudulent schemes in 2014. He led his victims to believe the deals were among those he was working on at Park Hill Group. Caspersen’s trading in the stock market sometimes yielded big gains and at other times losses amounting to millions.
After hearing testimony, the judge agreed Caspersen’s gambling addiction may have affected his decision making. He described the lengthy prison sentence urged by prosecutors as “absurd.” However, he stressed that other factors must also be considered. “It was a fraud that involved the deception of people who had a lot of faith in the defendant,” said the judge.
Caspersen’s four-year prison sentence will be followed by three years of supervised release. He must also pay nearly $28 million in restitution. “Anyone accused of a serious charge like securities fraud should seek legal counsel as soon as possible,” said Brill.
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