Bernard Madoff sentenced to 150 years jailJune 30th, 2009 - 12:46 am ICT by John Le Fevre
Wall street fraudster and the mastermind behind the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever, Bernard Madoff, has been sentenced to 150 years in prison.
US District Court Judge Denny Chin told the 71-year-old former high-flying investment broker that any sentence would largely be symbolic because, under current rules in federal court, a person must serve at least 80 percent of a sentence prior to being eligible for parole.
This would mean that Madoff would need to live to the age of 191 before being eligible for release.
Lawyer Ira Lee Sorkin, who represents Madoff, asked for a 12-year sentence. In a letter to the judge, Sorkin explained that his 71-year-old client, “has an approximate life expectancy of 13 years” and isn’t likely to outlive the requested sentence by more than a year.
However, Madoff’s victims, many of whom had been wiped out financially by the scam, urged the judge to dole out the stiffest punishment possible
Judge Chin said the sentence was important for its deterrent effect, with former Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Harvey Pitt estimating the actual net fraud to be between $10 and $17 billion.
Throughout the sentencing hearing Madoff stood with his head bowed
Madoff founded the Wall Street firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in 1960, and was its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008.
Born in the New York City borough of Queens, Madoff was a plumber before becoming a stockbroker.
According to court documents Madoff and his wife Ruth had amassed a personal fortune of $126 million, plus an estimated $700 million for the value of his business interests.
Major assets include($45 million in securities, $17 million in cash, $12 million for a half-interest in BLM Air Charter, a $7 million Leopard yacht, $2.6 million in jewelry, a $7 million Manhattan apartment, a $3 million Montauk house, an $11 million Palm Beach house, a $1 million French house, and furniture, household goods, and art worth $9.9 million.
On December 10, 2008, Madoff informed his sons, Mark, 45 and Andrew, 42, that he decided to pay several million dollars in bonuses two months earlier than scheduled.
When the two demanded to know how their father could pay bonuses if he couldn’t afford to pay investors, Madoff is alleged to have admitted the asset management arm of his firm was an elaborate Ponzi scheme.
The two sons then reported their father to federal authorities through their lawyers and on December 11, 2008 he was arrested and charged with securities fraud.
Last week Judge Chin ordered Madoff to forfeit $170 billion in assets, while his wife Ruth will relinquish all but $2.5 million of her assets.
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors from their own money, or money paid by subsequent investors, rather than from any actual profit earned.
The scheme is named after Charles Ponzi, who became notorious for using the technique after emigrating from Italy to the United States in 1903.
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