Monday, June 29, 2009
Federal District Court Judge Denny Chin threw the book at Bernie Madoff today, imposing the maximum sentence of 150 years, exactly what the prosecutors asked for and what Madoff's defense attorney called as "defying reason" (he suggested 12 years). The judge said that symbolism is important and "a message must be sent that Mr. Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil." The judge also noted the long duration of the fraud.
During what all reports describe as an emotional hearing nine victims were permitted to make statements, after which Madoff made a statement. Turning to face the people in the courtroom, he apologized and denied that he and his wife Ruth were not sympathetic to the victims: "she cries herself to sleep every night." (Ruth Madoff, who was not in the courtroom, released a statement that, like the victims, she felt betrayed and confused. Ruth Madoff has reached a settlement with the SEC that will allow her to keep $2.5 million, at least until other regulators or victims seek to recover it.)
Judge Chin also observed that he sensed that Madoff has not been as cooperative as he could be (a complaint that the prosecutors and SIPC have made) and that no one had submitted letters on behalf of Madoff.