Monday, June 29, 2009

Bernie Madoff Gets 150 Years

This is from the Boston Herald:

U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin sentenced Bernard Madoff to the maximum 150 years in prison today for running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, calling the crime: “extraordinarily evil.”

“Symbolism is important,” Chin told Madoff at a New York sentencing hearing.

Earlier, Madoff spoke for the first time about the scam, telling Chin: “I will live with the pain and torment (of hurting people) for the rest of my life.”

“I cannot offer an excuse for my behavior,” Madoff said. “How to do excuse deceiving investors? How do you excuse lying to your sons? How do you excuse lying to your two brothers? How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by me for 50 years.

“There is no excuse for that,” Madoff told the court. “I made a terrible mistake. . . . I’ve left a legacy of shame for my children and grandchildren. I will live with the pain and torment the rest of my life.”

Then, the scammer turned to victims in the courtroom and said: “I am sorry. I know that doesn’t help you.”

The 71-year-old Madoff faced as much as 150 years in prison for scamming thousands of victims out of $65 billion. The con artist pleaded guilty on March 12 to all 11 fraud counts he had faced.

Nine of the scheme’s victims told the judge at today’s hearing about how the scam destroyed their lives.

“I now live on food stamps. I cannot afford eyeglasses. My laundry is done in a sink. I collect cans and take them to the redemption center,” victim Miriam Siegman told the court. “I now live in fear.”

Maureen Ebel addressed the disgraced financier directly, saying: “Mr. Madoff, goodness is something you have been blind to your whole life. It’s better than all of the homes and yachts you have.”

Dominic Ambrosino told the crook: “This cannot be real. We didn’t do anything wrong (but) we’ve lost our freedom.”

Michael Schwartz argued that the 71-year-old Madoff should die in prison, saying: “His jail cell should be his coffin.”

Madoff didn’t look at his victims as they spoke to him, but stared straight ahead or looked down at his hands.

After the victims addressed the court, Madoff lawyer Ira Sorkin countered that his client deserves a measure of mercy.

“We represent a deeply flawed individual (but) vengeance is not a part of punishment. . . . We do not seek an eye for an eye,” the lawyer told the court.

Prosecutors had asked Chin to impose the maximum 150-year sentence on the scammer, while probation officials recommended 50 years in prison. But Madoff’s lawyers argued for just a 12-year term, citing Madoff’s age and likely lifespan.

The disgraced financier arrived at a Manhattan courthouse shortly before 10 a.m., wearing a dark suit, a white shirt and tie.

New York-based Madoff has been in a Manhattan lock-up since pleading guilty on March 12. However, the U.S. Bureau of Prisons will move the swindler to permanent digs - possibly the Bay State’s Devens Federal Medical Center - soon after today’s court session.

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