Ponzi scheme artist and former NASDAQ head Bernie Madoff was sentenced Monday, June 29 to 150 years in prison for his role in defrauding thousands of people out of more than $65 billion during a more than 20 year period. The 72 year former Wall Street guru, had a sort of ironic look on his face, according to witnesses, as he was led into the NYC Federal Courthouse at 7 a.m. local time. So much public interest had resulted in a special barrier set up in front of the building, most likely to keep many of Madoff’s victims from having a go at him after he bilked many of them of their life’s savings. One small woman, who watched him go by, said he had taken all she had and that she planned to write a book about it. “I have lost everything”, the small blond woman said.
Those inside the courtroom said that Madoff seemed to even display an ironic smile as the sentence was read off to him by a female Federal Judge. Madoff’s attorney, in possibly a last ditched effort to receive some clemency for his client, told the court that Madoff’s wife “spent her own money to provide security for her husband while he was awaiting trial. That remark resulted in a momentary burst of laughter from the packed courtroom, due to its irony.
As Madoff was led away, most likely never to leave the prison where he will be confined, many people gave comments like: “it wasn’t enough â€“ the money is still gone â€“ my money is gone!”
Later on, Madoff’s wife Ruth finally broke the silence she had imposed on herself by issuing a statement in that she was not indifferent to what her husband did, and that “not a day goes by that my does not ache over stories I have read of people who lost so much”. That doesn’t appear to go far enough to placate her husband’s victims, many of whom are now virtually destitute as a result of Madoff’s actions. This also includes a number of high profile non-profit foundations, some of whom will have to close their doors due to lack of funds. Ruth Madoff was allowed to keep a sum of around 2.5 million dollars, in a cooperation agreement her husband made with Federal authorities. That amount may later be challenged, however, due to a number of further claims against the former financier.
Putting Madoff away forever isn’t going to bring back most of the money he stole, and lucky claimants may see a 5% return on their original investment. It might have been a better punishment for Madoff (and perhaps his entire family, including two sons and a daughter) to have literally stripped them of all assets, reducing them to the lowest level of penury. Seeing the former ponzi wheeler-dealer residing in a homeless shelter (if one might be found that was willing to accommodate him) might have been a better fate than sending him off to a federal prison where he will be fed, clothed, and attended to medically at the taxpayers’ expense.