Breaking News: Madoff Sentenced to the Maximum

A federal judge, calling his crimes “extraordinarily evil,” sentenced Bernard L. Madoff to 150 years in prison today for operating a huge Ponzi scheme that violated thousands of people’s trust and caused astronomical loss. I’m reminded of Nancy Goldstein’s great piece over at Salon (which Ann linked to a while back in her WFR) about how the closing of two of Madoff’s clients, the Picower Foundation and the JEHT Foundation, are affecting funding for advocacy and activism:

The media’s obsession with wealthy individuals who have been ruined by Madoff and feel betrayed is understandable. But when that story wears thin, let’s hope the cameras will document the effect of the $42 million shortfall that progressive nonprofits will face in 2009 without funding from JEHT and Picower. We’ve only just begun to understand the implications of that loss for women’s health and human rights.

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  1. zp27
    Posted June 29, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    Thank god. His lawyers were asking for 12 years…jesus…

  2. Doug S.
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure that jail time is an appropriate punishment for massive white-collar crime of this sort, especially when said crime is committed by an old man. As Madoff’s lawyers commented, the average life expectancy of a 71-year-old man in the United States is thirteen years. Is thirteen years in jail a sufficient punishment for stealing more than twice as much money as the endowment of the Gates Foundation? (Which, by the way, is $26 billion, according to Wikipedia.)
    In a very real sense, this man has done more damage than the 9/11 hijackers did during the attack itself. It may seem like a callous comparison, but hear me out. The property damage done by the 9/11 attacks fall far short of Madoff, as the World Trade Center towers were worth a “mere” $3 billion each. Using a generous assessment of $10 million for the value of a statistical life, the 9/11 death toll of about 3,000 is equivalent to a loss of $30 billion. The more than $50 billion that Madoff stole, had it been spent on, say, improving road safety, could have saved many more lives than were lost in the World Trade center collapse.
    I don’t know what the appropriate penalty for Madoff should be, but the phrase “fate worse than death” should probably enter into it somewhere.

  3. zp27
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Well, what? Execution? Community service? Should he make PSAs talking about Ponzi schemes? I think the point is to ensure that he dies in jail, and doesn’t get to enjoy the fruits of his wrongdoing anymore.

  4. Doug S.
    Posted June 30, 2009 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    As I said, I really don’t know. Making Madoff suffer won’t do all that much to help the people he stole from, and we can’t undo the fact that he got to enjoy the fruits of his scheme in the past. At this point, all I can think of to do is to try to figure out what sentence will be best at deterring the next would-be Bernie Madoff, and I have no idea what that is. (I’m tempted to suggest this, though.)

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