After months of waiting, media outlets worldwide report that disgraced financier and Ponzi scheme mastermind, Bernard Madoff, has been sentenced to 150 years in prison for swindling scores of investors out of about $65 billion. Lev L. Dassin, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Joseph M. Demarest, Jr., the Assistant Director-in-Charge of the New York Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), announced that Madoff was sentenced in Manhattan federal court.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, in sentencing Madoff, stated, “Objectively speaking, the fraud was staggering”; “the breach of trust was massive.” Chin described Madoff’s crimes as “extraordinarily evil” and said Madoff’s was “not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper but one that takes a staggering human toll. No other white collar case is comparable in terms of the scope, duration and enormity of the fraud and the degree of the betrayal.”
The sentence mandates the convicted 71-year-old Ponzi schemer forfeitâ€”to start withâ€”$170,799,000,000, representing total proceeds of and property involved in some of the related crimes. Chin entered the preliminary forfeiture order Friday, completely divesting Madoff of his interest in all property, including real estate, investments, cars and boats, in partial satisfaction of the judgment. Chin also extended the time for ruling on an order of restitution for 90 days from the date of sentencing.
Madoff has been in custody since he pleaded guilty on March 12, 2009, to an 11-count information charging securities, investment advisor, mail, and wire fraud; three counts of money laundering; perjury; false statements; false filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC); and theft from an employee benefit plan.
When Judge Chin issued the maximum sentence, those in the packed courtroom applauded; Madoff allegedly did not react. Chin denied Madoffâ€™s lawyerâ€™s request for a more lenient sentence, reported the Associated Press (AP).
Prior to imposing sentence, Chin heard from nine victims before asking Madoff if he had anything to say, reported the AP, which said Madoff spoke for about ten minutes, often referring to his crimes as a â€œproblem,â€ â€œan error of judgment,â€ and â€œa tragic mistake,â€ it quoted. The AP added that Madoff claimed he and his wife, Ruth, are tormented and said Ruth, â€œcries herself to sleep every night, knowing all the pain and suffering I have caused. Thatâ€™s something I live with, as well,â€ it quoted. Looking at the victims, Madoff said, â€œI will turn and face youâ€¦. Iâ€™m sorry. I know that doesnâ€™t help you.â€
Ruth Madoff spoke through her attorney, claiming she was also duped, said the AP. Her statement, in part said, reported the LA Times that, “Lives have been upended and futures have been taken away. All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to. 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.â€
Bloomberg.com said, at his sentencing, Madoff stated Ruth would issue a statement, noting that her silence since his December arrest was on attorney advice. No Madoff family was in attendance today, said Bloomberg.com. Chin told CNBC, said the LA Times, that he did not receive any letters requesting leniency form Madoff’s friends or family.
And, although Bernard has been initially stripped of $171 billion and all of his personal property, as well as $80 million in assets Ruth claims were hers, the wife of the mastermind of what is believed to be the largest such scam in history still walks away with $2.5 million, likely more than many of Madoffâ€™s duped investors.