Michael Marin

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Michael Marin
Michael James Marin

December 2, 1958
DiedJune 28, 2012(2012-06-28) (aged 53)
Cause of deathCommitted suicide by suicide pill
Alma materBrigham Young University (B.A.), Yale Law School (J.D.)
Tammy Gunderson
(m. 1980; div. 1992)

Michael James Marin (December 2, 1958 – June 28, 2012) was an American financier, lawyer, ex-Wall Street trader, and millionaire who committed suicide by cyanide ingestion after being convicted of arson.

Early life[edit]

Marin was raised in Oak Harbor, north of Seattle, Washington. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he attended Brigham Young University and served a mission in Japan, where he learned Japanese. After college, he attended Yale Law School and was admitted to the New York State Bar Association in 1987.


Marin went to work in the legal departments of banks, which sent him back to Japan. He made a fortune trading in complex investments in the 1980s and '90s, working for Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, and Salomon Brothers mainly in their operations in Asia. His children were raised in Asia and Chicago. His wife, Tammy, left him in 1992, after 12 years of marriage.

Marin returned to the United States, after being let go by Lehman Brothers in 1997. He led a lavish lifestyle, buying a multimillion-dollar mansion in Arizona and collecting works of art that included etchings by Pablo Picasso. He traveled extensively throughout the Far East. A book he wrote about investment banking in Asia, Fluctuations, recounts his adventures in Papua New Guinea, Cambodia and Malaysia. An avid thrill seeker and adventurer, he travelled to many exotic climes and summited the highest peaks of six continents, including Mount Everest.[1]

Arson charge[edit]

Marin bought a 10,000 sq ft (930 m2) mansion in the Biltmore Estates neighborhood of Phoenix in September 2008,[2] doing so after a friend and business partner had lost the property to foreclosure and paying for it through a complex series of transactions. It came with a monthly mortgage payment of $17,250 and an imminent $2.3 million balloon payment. In spring 2009, Marin devised a lottery to sell the house with profit, with some funds going to a charity he had chosen, a crisis center for children. However, the state authorities determined that the lottery was illegal and shut it down. The lottery drawing was supposed to be on July 4, 2009. The following day, Marin called 911 to report his house on fire. He claimed to have escaped the blaze by wearing scuba gear and lowering himself down from the second-floor with a rope ladder. Fire department investigators determined the fire was deliberate after finding several points of origin throughout the house.[1]


Marin was tried for arson and insurance fraud for setting his home on fire.[3] Court hearings started on May 21, 2012, and Marin faced 7 to 21 years in prison if convicted.

The jury found Marin guilty on June 28, 2012. Soon after the verdict, and being informed that he was to be taken into custody immediately, he committed suicide in court. He was seen in court videos closing his eyes as the verdict was being read, before appearing to put something in his mouth and drinking a liquid in a plastic water bottle, then fell to the floor a few minutes later in convulsions. Marin was rushed to a central hospital in Phoenix and was pronounced dead; an autopsy confirmed he had taken a lethal dose of cyanide.[4] He had bought a canister of cyanide in May 2011, from a California mail-order chemical supplier. At time of his death, he was a father of four and a grandfather of two.


  1. ^ a b Kiefer, Michael (19 August 2012). "The extreme life and dramatic death of Michael Marin". USA Today. Gannett Co. Inc. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  2. ^ "Arson in America: The odd tale of Michael Marin". Idependent Mail. 21 April 2013. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 16 July 2017.
  3. ^ Crimsider Staff (29 June 2012). "Michael Marin, Arizona man, dies moments after being convicted in arson case". CBS News. CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved 22 June 2020.
  4. ^ Muskal, Michael (27 July 2012). "Defendant commited [sic] suicide in courtroom by taking cyanide". Seattle Times. Retrieved 22 June 2020.