If you haven’t seen the movie Owning Mahoney, I can recommend it as a good way to pass a couple of hours. The movie story is based on real life events and it is sad, funny, and intense, all at the same time. However, a recent case of a Wall Street banker with a serious gambling addiction makes Mahoney look like a beginner.
Gambling addiction & access to millions: Bad combo
In the movie, a Canadian banker with a serious case of gambling addiction steals more than $10 million to feed his addiction. Based on the life story of Dan Mahoney, the movie makes one think long and hard just how serious of a problem gambling can become.
However, a Wall Street banker who was convicted to four years in prison on Friday took it to the next level.
Andrew Casperson was found guilty of stealing more than $38 million in what the Manhattan judge deemed a Ponzi-like scheme. The prosecution was after a much more severe punishment, wanting to send Casperson away for almost 16 years, but the judge didn’t share this view.
Story of gambling addiction, not of greed
Casperson was accused of defrauding people, leading them to invest into his fake companies. He then used these fake companies to funnel the money to his personal accounts. When it all came to a crushing halt in March and he was arrested, the banker waived his right to a Grand Jury trial.
Andrew Casperson knew what he did, but he claimed his actions were motivated by gambling addiction, not greed.
During the sentencing hearing, the judge was at first reluctant to accept this as an excuse for what Casperson had done, emphasizing that he had every reason to exaggerate his gambling addiction. However, after hearing expert testimonies, the judge apparently had a change of heart.
Gambling addiction is real
Dr. Marc Patenza was one of the key witnesses at the sentencing hearing. He testified for nearly two hours, describing Casperson’s condition as a sever case of gambling addiction. In addition to this, he also suffered from alcoholism.
After hearing all the arguments, the judge finally started to give in. However, he still maintained that Casperson was at fault for never asking for professional help and maintaining his 1% lifestyle. In the end, the judge concluded that it would serve no purpose for Casperson to rot in prison for a long period.
Instead of the almost 16 year sentence requested by prosecution, the judge sentenced Andrew Caspers0n to “just” four years. The banker expressed his deepest regrets during the hearing, accepting the blame for what he had done and understanding he had to serve the time.
Some may call this a lenient punishment, especially considering the amount of money in play, but the judge clearly accepted the gambling addiction explanation and that played a major part in his decision.
Casperson will report to the prison on January 4, when he will start serving his sentence. Even if four years may not seem like a lot, it is still plenty of time to spend behind the bars. Was it worth it? Only Andrew Casperson knows the real answer to that question.