Monday, June 29, 2009

Fraudster Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years


Heed the warning Barry Tannenbaum, J. Arthur Brown and Gary Porritt. The world has no tolerance for your kind; you will not be able to simply emigrate, crawl under a rock and stay there. Truth be told though, given the state of South Africa's NPA, you stand a good chance of getting away with it ... you filthy swines.

NEW YORK — Applause erupted in a Manhattan federal courtroom Monday as a federal judge sentenced Bernie Madoff — the man behind the world's most notorious investment fraud — to 150 years in prison.

The sentence by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin was the maximum possible for the 11 criminal convictions in the $65-billion Ponzi scheme the 71-year-old ran until last fall's stock market crash led to its collapse.

"The breach of trust was massive and the fraud unprecedented," said Chin.

"The message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one, instead, that takes a staggering toll."

The sentence dwarfs prison terms handed out in other major white-collar fraud convictions of recent years: WorldCom Inc. CEO Bernard J. Ebbers, 67, for example, received 25 years; and Adelphia Communications founder John Rigas, 84, is serving a 12-year sentence.

The judge said the estimated $13.2 billion in losses for Madoff's victims was conservative because it had not taken account of cash from feeder funds.

Madoff pleaded guilty March 12 to charges including securities fraud, mail fraud and money laundering. He was ordered directly to jail at that time.

Madoff appeared Monday in a dark, charcoal-grey suit, white shirt and dark tie after receiving advance permission from the judge to wear his own clothes.

As he sat between his lawyers at a polished table, the back of his head faced the nine victims who elected to testify from among the thousands he defrauded.

During the six minutes he took to deliver his prepared statement, he leaned forward, put his hands on the table, and described his decades of bilking billions of dollars as a "terrible mistake" and a "judgment error."

He then turned toward his victims, and said: "I face you. I know this will not help. I'm sorry."

Madoff signalled anew that his wife, Ruth, knew nothing of the fraud even though she had worked at her husband's company.

"How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by you for 50 years?" he said.

Neither she nor their two adult sons were in court, prompting the judge to remark that no friends or family had submitted letters of support. Such letters typically attest to an accused's strength of character and good deeds over the years.

But Ruth Madoff, who just days ago agreed in a deal with prosecutors to give up all but $2.5 million of some $80 million in assets, issued a statement following the sentencing.

"I am breaking my silence now, because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie's crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth," it read.

"Many of my husband's investors were my close friends and family. And in the days since December, I have read, with immense pain, the wrenching stories of people whose life savings have evaporated because of his crime."

A former A-lister within New York's social scene, Ruth Madoff, 68, now cannot even get an appointment with her longtime high-society hairdresser. She was photographed last week riding on the New York subway, and snapped at the photographer: "Are you having fun embarrassing me, and ruining my life?" (Boo hoo)

Madoff's victims included charities, a large swath of middle-class investors and celebrities — among them actor Kevin Bacon and director Steven Spielberg.

One victim who testified Monday raised the case of Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, who had handed $15.2 million that his foundation had amassed over to Madoff.

"As if Wiesel hasn't already suffered enough in his lifetime," said Burt Ross, a former mayor in New Jersey, who lost $5 million.

Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, accused victims of seeking "mob vengeance" as he asked ahead of the hearing for the judge to impose a 12-year sentence.

He also claimed his client had "co-operated" with investigators seeking to recover the lost billions.

Prosecutor Lisa Baroni scoffed at the request as she charged that Madoff had stolen "ruthlessly and without remorse" for years.

"Twelve years is a sentence for a garden variety crime," she said.

Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee for the defunct Madoff firm, said in a filing to the judge that Madoff had been unco-operative. Picard has been able to locate just $1.2 billion of the estimated losses.

The judge said he would consider Sorkin's request for Madoff to serve his sentence at a prison close enough to his family that they can visit him.

Beyond the courtroom, victims and their lawyers said they believed Madoff couldn't possibly have spent all of the money he stole despite the lavish lifestyle he and his wife led. The implication was that huge amounts of cash are hidden somewhere.

"It's really hard to spend a billion dollars, let alone $65 billion," said Ilene Kent of the Madoff Survivors Group.

Matthew Gluck, a lawyer representing about 100 victims, noted that almost seven months had passed since the fraud became known but little has been recovered.

"The bank accounts, stock and cash of the entity have been turned over, and a couple of boats and a house or two," he told Fox News Channel.

"That either means that there isn't anything else, or he can't possibly be co-operating."

3 Opinion(s):

Doberman said...

Wow, they were talking about 12 years or so but this is better. 100 years ago the man would have been hanged.

Anonymous said...

so he stole some money from a couple of millionares. greedy bastards actually deserved it.

Vanilla Ice said...

In the early days the millionaires get in on the action. As the numbers dry up, so the mainstream folk start getting included. When a Ponzi scheme collapses, it is the little people that get crushed. You don't hear about them because they don't have a voice, but they are there.