This past Monday, June 29th a one Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison with no chance of parole, for defrauding thousands of investors out of what is said to be billions of dollars, and for organizing and operating a Ponzi scheme, which is being called the biggest investor fraud ever committed by a single person. This Ponzi scheme, which is an operation that pays returns to investors from their own money instead of from any actual profit within the company, has caused Madoff to not only spend his life in prison, but liquidate all his assets to satisfy a $170 billion dollar restitution.
Bernie Madoff, according to some, shook the foundation of trust American’s had in our financial and legal systems, when he confessed first to his sons in December of 2008 that his Ponzi scheme was “one big lie” as he put it. Since as early as 1999 the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had been suspicious of the activity taking place in Madoff’s firm, and had conducted several investigations, critics contending the firm was incompetently handled. In fact, many victims and some politicians are blaming regulators and lawmakers for betraying them and not stopping Madoff sooner.
Presiding over the case, US District Court Judge Denny Chin noted that more than 100 victims wrote letters to him, not one being in support of Madoff. Having to sit through the statements of 9 of his victims during his trail, Madoff was forced to face his demons when they told their stories of how his deception had effected them. One woman stating that she had left her late husbands entire estate in the hands of Madoff & Co, and now was forced to move from her home because of lack of funds.
“I hope his sentence is long enough so his jail cell will become his coffin,” said Michael Schwartz, 33 years old, of New Jersey, who said his family’s funds with Madoff had been for the care of his mentally disabled brother.
Judge Chin, finally putting to rest a case that has shattered lives, has condemed Madoff’s crimes as “extrodinarily evil”, and imposed a sentence that his three times as long as the federal probation office suggested, and ten times longer than what his lawyers initially asked for. Given a moment to address his victims, Bernie Madoff apologized for the harm he inflicted on his family and those that trusted in him and blamed his pride that he wasn’t able to be honest with himself and others that he was a bad money manager.
“I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I understand that,” he said, leaning slightly forward over the polished table, his charcoal suit sagging on his diminished frame.
“I live in a tormented state now, knowing of all the pain and suffering that I have created.”
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