Spencer Dreier, whose father Marc is serving 20 years in prison for defrauding hedge funds, told a jury that his ex-college roommate in court used “hateful insults and lies” to defame him and assaulted him.
Spencer Dreier sued Ben Clorite in May 2009 for emotional distress, battery and defamation after a physical altercation early one morning in their dorm room at Schenectady, New York-based Union College. Dreier claims Clorite retaliated against him for reporting the incident by posting comments on a blog accusing Dreier of attempting to obstruct a government investigation into his father’s activities.
“The defendant seized on this personal crisis of mine to become even more of a threat,” Dreier said yesterday in his opening statement in federal court in Manhattan. He is representing himself without a lawyer at the trial.
Marc Dreier pleaded guilty in May 2009 to money laundering, conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud charges. He admitted selling at least $400 million in phony notes to hedge funds to pay for his lavish lifestyle and prop up his now-defunct 250-lawyer New York firm, Dreier LLP.
Spencer Dreier alleges that when he returned to school after his father’s arrest in December 2008, his already rocky relationship with Clorite deteriorated further until the two fought and Clorite punched Dreier. Clorite alleges Dreier provoked him, and that Clorite merely shoved his roommate in self-defense.
After the altercation in the dorm room, Clorite posted a comment on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog accusing Dreier of trying to destroy evidence against his father and protect the elder Dreier’s assets. Spencer Dreier denies any wrongdoing.
“The defendant’s whole case seems to rest on the assumption that he can call me a criminal online because my father is a criminal,” Dreier told the jurors.
Clorite countersued Dreier for assault and defamation, accusing Dreier of lying to Union College officials to have Clorite expelled. Both men left Union College after the 2009 incident.
Jerome Coleman, a lawyer representing Clorite, said in his opening statement that Dreier isn’t a trustworthy person.
“Nobody took his word for anything -- this is a credibility issue,” Coleman said, adding that his client has been the victim of “a terrible injustice.”
Coleman said it became “Spencer’s mission” during freshman year to get Clorite expelled and that the January 2009 fight was “the golden opportunity created by Dreier to make good on his threats.”
Dreier and Coleman both declined to comment on the court proceedings.
The case is Dreier v. Clorite, 09-cv-7553, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).