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Madoff gets 150 years....sign of the time, or white collar crime finally being seen as serious

 
 
dlowan
 
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 12:45 pm
From NYT:

Quote:
Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme


By JACK HEALY
Published: June 29, 2009

For one brief moment on Monday morning, Bernard L. Madoff stood up in a Manhattan courtroom and turned to face the people who lost their life savings to his huge Ponzi scheme. “I’m sorry,” he told them. “I know that doesn’t help you.”

Court security personnel stand outside the U.S. District Court in New York where Bernard Madoff will be sentenced later this morning. More Photos »



What did help some of the victims " if anything could " was the sentence Mr. Madoff received minutes later: 150 years in prison for operating one of the largest frauds in Wall Street history, an operation that ensnared millionaires, private foundations, a Nobel Prize laureate and hundreds of small investors who lost their life savings to an investment guru they had trusted completely.

In pronouncing the sentence " the maximum he could have handed down " Judge Denny Chin turned aside Mr. Madoff’s own assertions of remorse and rejected the suggestion from Mr. Madoff’s lawyers that there was a sense of “mob vengeance” surrounding calls for a long prison term. Mr. Madoff’s crimes, the judge said, were “extraordinarily evil.”

“Objectively speaking, the fraud here was staggering,” Judge Chin said. “It spanned more than 20 years.”

The sentencing came at the end of an emotional 90-minute hearing in which victims of the $65 billion fraud urged the judge to show no mercy and described how their lives had been upended by Mr. Madoff. They told of working three jobs to get by, losing their retirement, waking up one day to the shock of learning that their savings and investments had vanished.

After the victims spoke, Mr. Madoff himself stood up from the defense table to acknowledge the damage he had inflicted and express regret.

“I’m responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain, I understand that,” the 71-year-old financier told the court. “I live in a tormented state now, knowing all of the pain and suffering that I’ve created. I’ve left a legacy of shame, as some of my victims have pointed out, to my family and my grandchildren.”

Prosecutors said Mr. Madoff deserved the maximum term " representing a life sentence and more for the disgraced financier " for perpetrating one of the biggest investment frauds in Wall Street history. Mr. Madoff’s own lawyers said he should receive only 12 years.

Mr. Madoff wore a charcoal gray suit, cream shirt and a knit tie and sat at a polished wood table, surrounded by his lawyers. Prosecutors sat opposite them, and the viewing gallery was crowded with onlookers.

The hearing opened shortly after 10 a.m. with statements from victims of the Madoff scheme, who stood at a lectern and told wrenching stories of how they had lost everything, and were now working several jobs and living hand-to-mouth.

They fought through tears, connected Mr. Madoff to villains from Dante’s Inferno, spoke of their feelings of betrayal and mistrust, and described how their families had lost money that would have gone to caring for disabled relatives.

“How could someone do this to us?” said Dominic Ambrosino, a retired New York City corrections officer who said he lost his life savings with Mr. Madoff and was the first victim to speak. “We worked honestly and so hard.”

Another victim, Sharon Lissauer, who said she invested all of her savings with Mr. Madoff, told the court: “He should spend his whole life in jail. He’s ruined so many people’s lives. He killed my spirit and shattered my dreams.”

After Mr. Madoff’s victims finished speaking, his lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, stood up and said the government’s request for a 150-year sentence bordered on absurd. He called Mr. Madoff a “deeply flawed individual,” but a human being nonetheless.

“Vengeance is not the goal of punishment,” Mr. Sorkin said.

Even with a lesser term, Mr. Sorkin added, Mr. Madoff expects to “live out his years in prison.”

But in meting out the maximum sentence, Judge Chin pointed out that no friends, family or other supporters had submitted any letters on Mr. Madoff’s behalf, attesting to the strength of his character or good deeds he had done.

Even Mr. Madoff’s wife, Ruth, whose own awareness of his business dealings has been a major unanswered question, issued a statement on Monday distancing herself from him.

“All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed, disbelieving the nightmare they woke to,” she said. “I am embarrassed and ashamed. Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.”

She was not in court for the sentencing hearing.

Mr. Madoff was expected to return to his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Lower Manhattan while federal prison officials determine where he will serve his sentence. The judge indicated that Mr. Madoff would be imprisoned somewhere in the Northeast.



Article continus here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/30/business/30madoff.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&ref=global-home



I may well be wrong, but it seems to me that fraud (at least here) when committed by nice middle class folk, gets relatively light sentences.



I may be wrong about the US...and this was an ENORMOUS fraud.


But I do find myself wondering if he would have got so sevre a sentence if his crimes had been revealed before the crash.
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MontereyJack
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 12:57 pm
White collar crime gets off comparatively leniently in the States too. It often seems like the feeling is, "Well, he's really just like us, he's not some stereotypical depraved thug with a gun sticking someone up on the street, so let's just give him a slap on the knuckles, so he won't do it again." I suspect the crash had a lot to do with his sentence. I also suspect that they had somewhat the same source. People working in the financial sector seemed to have developed this sense of invulnerability, that the rules didn't apply to them, they were making huge amounts of money so what they were doing was all right. It wasn't. Madoff wasn't.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 04:12 pm
@dlowan,
The average sentence in the US for securities and exchange fraud is less than 5 years.

Michael Milken, by comparison, received a 10 year sentence and served 22 months.

Ivan Boesky was sentenced to 3.5 years and served two.

The average sentence for murder is 20 years and the average sentence for rape is 10.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 05:04 pm
There is at least one suicide which is being attributed to the revelation of Madoff's fraud, and some allege that there have been others. Most of the people who were bilked were not wealthy elites, and a great many of them were pensioners, or people nearing retirement age who had a considerable sum invested for retirement, and were sucked in by the scheme, coming as it did from a respected member of the financial community.

The only problems i have with all of this is that they let his wife keep $2,500,000, and that this is not typical of how white collar criminals are sentenced. If it were, it might be more effective.
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 07:43 pm
Since the market went down, people lost money and no one made money, unless someone then bought the stock when it was low, knowing it would eventually go up. Perhaps, this is acceptable in society's thinking?

So, while a Ponzi scheme is theft, it is O.K. for people to lose money in the legitimate market. The old saying, "all roads lead to Rome," comes to mind.
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 08:15 pm
@Foofie,
Madoff apparently never invested his deposits and simply recycled them in a classical Ponzi scheme. Despite this he produced elaborate financial reports, enumerating trades that never occurred and profits that did not exist. He also paid large commissions to his shills whose job was to maintain a steady supply of new "investors". Worse the evidence suggests he rewarded "friends" with particularly large returns --- all in a scheme that involved systematic, continuing lies and deception over many years, during which he and his family lived very well indeed.

The sentence was just.
hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Mon 29 Jun, 2009 08:26 pm
Ruth is claiming that she is innocent, and raging against Bernie. After reading the account of Bernie's long time secretary I don't buy it. Ruth is an actress in the same vein that he is an actor.

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/06/madoff200906
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Thu 2 Jul, 2009 03:24 pm
@hawkeye10,
"Bury me, dearie, waaaaaay deep. It's your only hope."

Since it was a criminal deception from the outset, why oh why would any of the money given to others not be subject to seizure? What's the difference between this and a bank robber who hands his innocent wife and kids a pile of loot, then takes the fall?
0 Replies
 
Foofie
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 08:54 pm
@georgeob1,
georgeob1 wrote:

Madoff apparently never invested his deposits and simply recycled them in a classical Ponzi scheme. Despite this he produced elaborate financial reports, enumerating trades that never occurred and profits that did not exist. He also paid large commissions to his shills whose job was to maintain a steady supply of new "investors". Worse the evidence suggests he rewarded "friends" with particularly large returns --- all in a scheme that involved systematic, continuing lies and deception over many years, during which he and his family lived very well indeed.

The sentence was just.


I do not understand the meaning of "150" years? Bernie is not going to live half that time, so I have to think that the 150 year sentence is to dissuade any future Ponzi schemers from thinking one can get off easy when caught.

0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Fri 3 Jul, 2009 09:47 pm
@dlowan,
Quote:
The judge indicated that Mr. Madoff would be imprisoned somewhere in the Northeast.


Likely, to make it easy for his friends to visit him.
0 Replies
 
 

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