Monday, June 29, 2009

150 Years

Bernard Madoff, age 71, was sentenced to 150 years in prison today for his elaborate, far reaching and long running Ponzi scheme, which defrauded - robbed - hundreds of people and organizations of enormous sums of money.

Perhaps because of the scale of the monies lost, coupled with the notoriety of some of the investors, there has seemed to be limited sympathy for the victims. (Burt Ross has posted several powerful pieces over on The Daily Beast chronicling his experience as one of Madoff’s victims, including the impact statement he read in court today.) But it is important to note that Madoff was a confidence man of the highest order. He was not some shady fly-by-night guy with an office in a strip mall. He founded his investment company back in 1960; was instrumental in the creation of NASDAQ and served as Chairman of the Board of the National Association of Securities Dealers. He had stature of long standing in the Wall Street community and, even more importantly, in the regulatory end of that industry.

It also must be made clear that investors with Madoff received conservative (albeit impossibly steady) returns on their “investments”. They received detailed, completely fictitious statements from Madoff showing their “holdings” in stocks - many of which were blue chip and widows and orphans stocks. Looking at those statements, I’m sure people felt comforted month in and month out that they were investing their hard earned money wisely, with a talented man shepherding their resources, for their children’s educations and their own retirements.

Beyond Madoff as an unparalleled con man, he also betrayed his investors’ trust in a deeply shameful way by targeting fellow Jews. This tremendous Ponzi scheme was simultaneously an Affinity scheme. Madoff worked his way from individuals to non-profit Jewish organizations, ultimately causing tremendous losses to Yeshiva University, Maimonides School and Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel’s own Foundation For Humanity, to name a few.

It is not clear how many other individuals who participated in Madoff’s Ponzi/Affinity scheme will be prosecuted. But considering the depth and breadth of the fraudulent activities, I have to believe many, many more criminals will be brought to justice.

I have no sympathy for Madoff. 150 years in a federal penitentiary? The gonnif (thief) should live so long.


Sue said...

WOW! That's so hectic. 150 years?! Sounds like he deserves every single one of them!! I wish our legal system was stricter on criminals in this country!!

dancingmorganmouse said...

He'll appeal won't he, and keep on appealing until he dies, never having to spend a day in goal I suspect.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Sue -
This was an unusually long sentence for an unusually enormous and elaborate criminal enterprise. But I'm glad the judge used his judicial discretion and imposed the maximum sentence.
- Lee

Hi Morgan -
Actually, Madoff pled guilty in court back on March 12, 2009. On that day, his bail was revoked and he went to jail. Yesterday was the sentencing. His lawyers have ten days to appeal the sentencing, but based on Madoff's behavior since last December, that seems unlikely. Why? The other members of his family have not (yet) been charged. So he will soon be moved to a maximum security prison.
- Lee

Lailaa said...

150 years sure is a long time and from the sounds of it, the punishment fits the crime...

Hugs, xx

dancingmorganmouse said...

O, didn't know that bit, so good! Serves him right and all that.

Pink Granite said...

Hi Lailaa -
I agree. The punishment does seem to fit the crime. The only thing better would be complete restitution and for all of the victims to be made whole.
- Lee

Hi DMM -
Normally relentless appeals would be expected. So I wanted to be sure you knew the unusual details of this case.
Serves him right and all that indeed!
- Lee