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White-Collar Crime

Madoff Gets Maximum 150 Years for ‘Extraordinarily Evil’ Crimes

Posted Jun 29, 2009 11:26 AM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Convicted swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to a 150-year prison term today for operating a massive Ponzi scheme under the guise of a hedge fund that may have bilked investors out of as much as $65 billion.

The defense had sought a 12-year sentence, and a presentence investigation by the state probation department had recommended 50 years, the Associated Press reported. But U.S. District Judge Denny Chin gave the 71-year-old Madoff the maximum, saying that the sentence needed to send a message both to victims and to others who might be tempted to take the same path as the defendant, according to another Associated Press story.

“Here 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 judge explained.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March to multiple fraud and money laundering counts, as well as perjury, making false filings with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission and theft from an employee benefit plan, notes Bloomberg.

A select group of nine of Madoff's victims gave emotional testimony prior to his sentencing today in federal court in Manhattan. Among them was Carla Hirschhorn, of Manalapan, N.J., who said her life is a living hell, with her mother now dependent on social security and her daughter working two jobs to pay tuition, the news agency reports.

“Don’t fail us,” Hirschhorn urged Chin, criticizing Madoff for showing "no remorse."

After the victims' testimony was over, Madoff told Chin he lives "in a tormented state,” and told victims he realized he'd done a great deal of harm that nothing he could say would correct, reports Bloomberg in another article.

He also offered a classic explanation for his massive swindle: “I believe when I started this problem, this crime, it was something I’d be able to work out of.”

Madoff showed no emotion at his sentence, the news agency reports.

Although the prosecution had recommended 150 years, many observers had expected the judge to give Madoff considerably less time.

Additional coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Prosecution to Seek 150-Year Sentence for Bernard Madoff on Monday"

ABAJournal.com: "Bernard Madoff Should Get 12 Years in Stupendous Swindle, His Lawyer Argues"

Wall Street Journal (sub. req.): "Hunt Goes On for Missing Madoff Money"

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