Madoff Begs For Lighter Sentence

Paul Radvany in, June 24, 2009

Bernard Madoff doesn’t think he should go to jail for the 150 years he is facing.

The mastermind of a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, through a letter from his attorney, begged the court to set aside “the emotion and hysteria attendant to this case,” when he sentences Madoff on June 29. Instead, Ira Sorkin, Madoff’s lawyer, asked the court to sentence him to 12 years.

Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud for which the maximum sentence could be 150 years.

Sorkin wrote that for 71-year-old Madoff, 12 years was almost a life sentence. The attorney also said Madoff was cooperating with prosecutors to help them trace assets.

Paul Radvany, a professor at Fordham Law School and a former federal prosecutor said criminals in federal prison could get up to 15% off from their sentence, provided that they behaved well while incarcerated. If that were to happen, Madoff could serve a little more than 10 years in prison on a 12-year sentence.

Radvany, however, said it would be hard to convince the judge to hand out that low a sentence.

“It’s not like it’s a one or two or ten-victim case,” Radvany said. “It was devastating to many of his victims, both financially and emotionally.”

The outpouring of anguish from Madoff’s victims has been legion. On Tuesday, the court made public more than 100 letters and e-mails that were submitted to prosecutors when Madoff pleaded guilty in March.

Rosalind Clark, a 61-year-old Californian, whose 70-year-old husband had two strokes, wrote to the court that she had lost $245,000, her entire life savings by investing with a Madoff feeder fund.

“The emotional damage I have suffered since receiving that telephone call from Mr. Scott Porter to inform me that I had lost my entire savings to Madoff on Dec. 12, 2008 has been devastating,” Clark wrote.