Life Behind Bars for Madoff?

Paul Radvany in Reuters, June 29, 2009

It's sentencing day for Bernard Madoff, the world's business press trumpet this morning. According to Reuters, the 71-year-old "admitted thief" (he's also a "swindler") can expect to be sentenced to life for masterminding the largest-ever Ponzi scheme, bilking his clients of billions. CNNMoney concurs, saying the judge will probably throw the book at Madoff and sentence him to remain behind bars for the rest of his life; officially, Madoff faces a 150-year term. What is certain is the high drama in court today. Victims will get their chance to detail how the Madoff swindle has ruined their lives. "Given the enormous amount of funds he has stolen and the number of victims, the sentence is going to be very, very high," Paul Radvany, a former federal prosecutor and law professor at Fordham University, tells Reuters.

Meanwhile, the search continues for the missing Madoff money—just $1.2 billion of the $13.2 billion sought by court-appointed trustee Irving Picard has been located, the Wall Street Journal writes. The victims will be compensated up to $500,000 from the Securities Investor Protection Corp. What they get on top of that comes down to whatever Picard can uncover. Most of the recovered money comes from liquidating Madoff's assets and forcing family members like wife Ruth to relinquish their millions to the courts. The hard nugget will be the remaining $10 billion or so. To recover this cash, Picard is suing investors, including trust funds and partnerships run by investors Jeffry Picower and Stanley Chais, who withdrew billions from their Madoff accounts in recent years, the newspaper writes.