Charles Ponzi (March 3, 1882–January 18, 1949)...Image via Wikipedia

Now he really is a big name, and that name is accompanied with a big scandal, with a big sentence of 150 years in jail… so much for being a fraud of such a financial magnitude…


Posted: 29 June 2009 2345 hrs

Bernard Madoff

NEW YORK: Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail Monday for masterminding an "evil" multi-billion-dollar investment scam that cheated thousands of people around the world.

"It is the judgment of this court that Bernard Madoff should be sentenced to 150 years in jail," Judge Denny Chin said, as he handed down the maximum term possible on 11 charges of fraud, theft and perjury.

He described Madoff's crimes as "extraordinarily evil" and said it was "not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper but one that takes a staggering human toll."

The tough sentence came even after Madoff, the former chairman of the Nasdaq, made a courtroom apology to his victims. "I am sorry," he told them simply. "I don't ask for forgiveness."

"I leave a legacy of shame to my family. I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I live in a tormented state," said the disgraced 71-year-old financier who now faces spending the rest of his life in prison.

"I cannot offer an excuse for my behavior," he added. "How do you excuse deceiving investors... and 200 employees?

"How do you excuse lying to my sons and two brothers? How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by you for 50 years and still stands by me? There is no excuse for that."

Some of Madoff's victims vented their fury as they addressed the court.

Fraud victims stage protest following the sentencing hearing for Madoff

Cheryl Weinstein blasted Madoff as "a monster" and a "beast."

"He walks among us. But he is a beast who has fed upon us to satisfy his own needs... I am asking you to keep in a cage behind bars," she said.

Breaking into tears, Burt Ross, who lost five million dollars, said Madoff "has truly earned his reputation of being the most despised person in America today."

"I only hope that his jail sentence is long enough so that his jail cell becomes his coffin," said Michael Schwartz, 33, who said the money stolen from his family had been set aside to take care of his mentally disabled brother.

As court-appointed liquidators struggle to recover the missing billions, Judge Chin told the court: "I don't get the sense that Bernard Madoff said all that he could or told all that he knows."

Chin gave Madoff 10 days to appeal the sentence, but said there had not been a single letter from friends or family testifying to his good deeds. "The absence of such support is telling," he said.

And Madoff's wife, Ruth, finally broke her silence Monday to lash out her husband, saying: "All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to.

"The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known all these years," she said in a statement.

"Many of my husband's investors were my close friends and family. And in the days since December, I have read, with immense pain, the wrenching stories of people whose life savings have evaporated because of his crime."

The verdict came some six months after the biting economic downturn forced Madoff to unmask himself as behind one of the biggest financial scams in history.

Prosecutors say about 13 billion dollars was handed to Madoff. The financier himself has talked about losing some 50 billion dollars, which is believed to be the amount that would have been paid out had the funds been properly invested.

Among Madoff's victims were Hollywood celebrities, international movers and shakers, some of the world's most famous banks and Jewish charities, some of which were forced to close after the scheme unraveled.

Madoff's jail cell.

Madoff told the court in March that of the billions of dollars that passed through his hands during the three-decade scam, he never invested one cent in the market. Instead he stashed the funds in a Chase Manhattan bank account.

The funds were then used to pay out "dividends" to investors in what is known as a "Ponzi scheme."

Chin has ordered that Madoff forfeit over 170 billion dollars in illegally obtained assets. And in an accompanying order, a district court also stipulated that Ruth Madoff be stripped of 85 million dollars in assets, leaving her with 2.5 million dollars in cash.

One lingering issue is how to return the stolen funds. Of the billions of dollars that were lost, prosecutors say only one billion dollars has been recovered.

The judge deferred the issue of restitution for another 90 days to give court-appointed liquidators more time to recover the missing funds.

- AFP /ls

From; see the source article here.

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