Jewish Journal


June 29, 2009

Bernard Madoff sentenced to 150 years



Bernard Madoff, the now infamous conman who admitted to running the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history, was sentenced this morning to 150 years in prison. That’s the maximum, and it pretty much guarantees that the 71-year-old disgraced financier will die in prison.

More from The New York Times:

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.

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

The sentencing came at the end of a 90-minute hearing in which victims told a packed courtroom that the judge should show no mercy and 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,” Mr. Madoff 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.”

Addressing his victims seated in the courtroom, he said: “I will turn and face you. I’m sorry. I know that doesn’t help you.”

It didn’t help Madoff either.

This saga, of course, is not over. The spotlight recently shifted to Madoff’s enablers, to what the money managers who directed funds his way knew and didn’t know. Last week, the SEC sued Beverly Hills investment guru Stanley Chais, a prominent giver to Jewish causes, and for others for allegedly propping Madoff up; the month before, the court-appointed trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm sued Chais, who he claimed was the first name in Bernad L. Madoff Investment Securities Inc’s speed dial. Chais was also reportedly under criminal investigation.

Chais has proclaimed his innocence, and has repeatedly stated that if he’d known Madoff was running a scam, he wouldn’t have kept his own money and his family’s money with him. One of the family members who lost everything when the house of cards collapses was a 75-year-old Santa Monica retiree:

“My personal theory is that he started as a legitimate investor,” Braslau said of Madoff. “He was a real genius. But then this recession happened, and people started asking for their money and he reverted to this Ponzi scheme. It doesn’t really matter, for those of us hoping to recover our money, when he started. There’s no money left.”

“The chance of us recovering any money, I think, is less than zero.”

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