July 11 (Bloomberg) -- Spencer Dreier, the son of convicted ex-lawyer Marc Dreier, testified that after his father’s 2008 arrest for fraud, his college roommates bet on how long he would take their taunting before he left school.
Dreier, 22, addressed a jury in federal court in Manhattan for about three and a half hours in his defamation trial against his former roommate, Ben Clorite. U.S. District Judge John G. Koetl asked Dreier 10 times to slow down in the first two hours.
“When your father gets arrested and everything one day is one way and another day another way, it’s unsettling; it’s upsetting,” Dreier said. Still, he said, he hoped his roommates would be sympathetic but “It was just the opposite.”
Marc Dreier pleaded guilty in May 2009 to money laundering, conspiracy, securities fraud and wire fraud after admitting to stealing $400 million by selling fake notes to hedge funds. He was arrested in early December 2008, just as his son was beginning winter break in his freshman year.
Spencer Dreier said that while he and Clorite had never gotten along, the situation worsened when the students returned to Schenectady, New York-based Union College after that recess.
Clorite “was constantly telling me he was reading about the case and suggesting extracurricular reading to the other students,” Dreier said.
He said Clorite and the other two men who lived in their suite had a running bet about how long he would stay at the school and in the suite.
Jerome Coleman, a lawyer representing Clorite, accused Dreier during the beginning of cross-examination of fabricating some of the details of his story.
“Isn’t it true that there was never any pool about whether you would stay in college? You just made it up?” Coleman asked. “Isn’t it true that you had hostility toward Ben Clorite?”
Dreier responded that he wouldn’t have made the statement under oath if it weren’t true.
Clorite told the jury during his testimony that he and the other suitemates were concerned about Dreier’s mental health when they heard about his father’s arrest. He said they wrote to officials who oversaw their dorm to suggest there be extra support in place when Dreier returned to school.
Instead, Dreier testified, the taunting increased.
“They would talk literally as loud as they could,” Dreier told the jury. “They would scream about me or my father” and “Say, ‘Oh! Did you see that article today?’”
The younger Dreier sued his former roommate for defamation after Clorite posted a comment on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog accusing Spencer of obstructing the case against his father and attempting to destroy evidence.
Spencer Dreier, who is representing himself, told the jury he had no involvement in his father’s Ponzi scheme or in trying to obstruct the case after his father’s arrest.
“I’m trying not to use too severe words in saying how ridiculous these statements are,” Dreier said. “The whole statement is just mean, unfounded, and totally ruined everything I had going at Union.”
Dreier is seeking more than $4 million in damages from Clorite over the alleged defamation and an assault Dreier alleges occured during a physical altercation the men had in January 2009. Both men left Union College after the 2009 incident.
Clorite countersued Dreier for defamation and is seeking damages related to forfeited tuition payments and costs associated with the litigation, totaling more than $260,000.
Marc Dreier, 62, is serving a 20-year sentence in federal prison in Minnesota.
The case is Dreier v. Clorite, 09-cv-7553, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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