3 Notorious Ivy League Criminals


3 Notorious Ivy League Criminals

November 30, 2016

In the 1987 film, Wall Street, Michael Douglas’ character declares, “Greed, for lack of a better word, is good.”

However, this is just a movie line added for drama. We know greed to be a dangerous idea. So how could some people, with an Ivy League education no less, forgo common sense and commit greed-driven white-collar crimes?

Earlier this month, former Wall Street executive, Andrew Caspersen, was sentenced to four years in prison for stealing $38.5 million from family and friends, as well as millions more from investors, to fuel his “aggressive stock options bets.”

The Harvard-graduate’s defense team blamed it was a gambling addiction that caused his Ponzi-like scheme. But that defense didn’t stand to clear him of the punishment he’ll now face.

Education level and white-collar crime

In profiling what type of person is more likely to commit fraud, a report published by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, found that “the higher the education level, the more costly the fraud.”

Though the motivation behind such white-collar crimes is financial gain, these are not victim-less acts of crime. Fraud and scams committed with greed have destroyed families, lost people’s life-savings or jobs and cost investors billions.

Here are three of the most notorious Ivy League-educated persons who’ve committed white-collar crimes:

Jeffrey Skilling

Education: MBA from Harvard University.

Background: After graduating from Harvard in 1979, Skilling went to work for McKinsey & Company in energy and consulting practices. In 1990, he was hired to work at the energy company, Enron. By 1997, he promoted as president and chief operating officer of the company – helping to make Enron the “biggest wholesaler of gas and electricity.” In 2001, he became CEO.

Crime: To inflate Enron’s stock price, the company – lead by Skilling – “anticipated future profits as actual gains.” A red flag was raised after Enron declared bankruptcy in December 2001. Just a few months earlier, in August, Skilling unexpectedly resigned amidst the California energy crisis, selling “almost $60 million in Enron shares.” It was the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history – putting 20,000 employees out of work and losing investors’ billions.

Sentence: Convicted of multiple felony charges including, insider trading, securities fraud, and making false statements to auditors, Skilling was fined $45 million and sentenced to 24 years, 4 months in prison. Though he might be released by 2017.

Raj Rajaratnam

Education: MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Background: Sri Lanka-born Rajaratnam became the 236th richest American in 2009, according to Forbes. He made his billions during the technology boom of the 1990s, starting his career in finance as a lending officer for high tech companies. Later, he started a hedge fund he named Galleon, which would become “one of the world’s largest hedge funds.”

Crime: Rajaratnam was found guilty of fraud and conspiracy for using inside information to trade in stocks. In 2008, federal agents tapped his phone conversations and found he was “matter-of-factly,” illegally sharing information.

Sentence: Rajaratnam was convicted of 14 counts of conspiracy and securities fraud. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2011 – “the longest prison term ever for insider trading.”

Michael Milken

Education: MBA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Background: Known as the “junk bond king,” Milken started his career at Drexel Harriman Ripley where he headed of the company’s non-investment-grade bond department. He started his own company, International Capital Access Group, in 1989. Currently, he’s still trying to clean up his reputation, marketing himself as a financier and philanthropist.

Crime: In 1989, Milken was indicted on 98 counts of racketeering and fraud, including insider trading, tax evasion and repayment of illicit profits. In 1990, he pleaded guilty to six felony counts of securities fraud and tax violations.

Sentence: Milken was sentenced to ten years in prison, but only served two. He was also forced to pay $900 million in fines and settlements and “banned for life from the securities industry.”

Disclaimer: The above is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.