Monday, June 29, 2009

Judge finds "extraordinary evil" in Bernard Madoff for fraud against so many

Bernard Madoff

Can you physically harm someone just by cheating him or her out of money that is rightfully theirs?

Are economic crimes indirectly crimes of violence?

They are, and it's time that many people in positions of prestige and power were recognized for the harm they do. It isn't just money if it's someone's livelihood.

Madoff gets 150 years in prison
‘Extraordinary evil’ cited by judge
Bernard L. Madoff received the maximum penalty.
By Beth Healy and Casey Ross
Boston Globe Staff
June 30, 2009

Despite his claims of contrition, Bernard L. Madoff was sentenced yesterday to 150 years in prison for a crime a federal judge called an act of “extraordinary evil.’’

The lengthy sentence - ensuring Madoff will die behind bars - was the harshest possible punishment that US District Judge Denny Chin could impose.

In March, the former investment manager confessed to swindling some of the nation’s wealthiest families and prominent philanthropies out of their fortunes, along with cheating widows, retired teachers, tradesmen, and hundreds of other middle-class investors out of their life savings.

“The fraud here was staggering,’’ Chin said during the sentencing in a packed Manhattan courtroom. “This is not just a matter of money. The breach of trust was massive.’’

And yet investigators are still trying to determine its full scope.

Last night, a person familiar with the investigation said 10 more people are likely to face federal charges over the next few months, the Associated Press reported. The person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, would not say whether Madoff’s relatives or former employees are being targeted.

Boston was one of several focal points of Madoff’s two-decade fraud, and yesterday several victims from Massachusetts expressed satisfaction after the sentencing. But they said the prison term is not enough to undo the financial devastation he brought.

“I wish there was some way for him to feel the hurt and the damage he has created,’’ said David Ranzer, a retired broker from Williamstown who said he lost a nearly seven-figure sum to Madoff. “But I don’t think he’s capable of that, and the reason he is not capable of that is the very reason he allowed himself to do what he did.’’

Madoff drew many clients from the networks of Boston’s and New York’s wealthy Jewish communities, often socializing with them in the winter retreat of Palm Beach, Fla. Among them was the Shapiro family of Boston.

Last week, the Securities and Exchange Commission and the bankruptcy trustee overseeing the recovery of money for victims accused Robert Jaffe of Weston, the son-in-law of Carl and Ruth Shapiro, and the brokerage firm at which he worked of steering more than $1 billion in investors’ money to Madoff - when he should have known Madoff was running a fraud. Regulators said Jaffe earned at least $150 million from Madoff.

Jaffe, through his attorney, denied the charges.

Dozens of victims who submitted statements to the court detailed the extreme privation that Madoff’s theft had left them in. Some said they were reduced to living on Social Security, being forced to sell their homes, or returning to work years after having retired.

Madoff tried to address the anger and the emotions in a statement in court. Dressed in a dark suit and looking thinner than in March, when he pleaded guilty, Madoff spoke quietly, almost meekly - in marked contrast to the tearful, angst-ridden statements read by nine victims...


Ten could eventually be charged in Madoff fraud

By Grant McCool
June 30, 2009

U.S. investigators believe 10 or more people associated with imprisoned swindler Bernard Madoff could be criminally charged in the coming months or beyond, a law enforcement source said on Tuesday.

The source, who asked not be identified because of the ongoing investigation into the multibillion-dollar Madoff fraud, said the FBI was "closer to the beginning than the end" of the probe.

Disgraced financier Madoff, 71, was sentenced to 150 years imprisonment on Monday after he pleaded guilty in March to orchestrating a worldwide investment scheme of as much as $65 billion...

"There will probably be more people charged," the law enforcement source said. "It is likely to be 10 or more, but it is going to be a lengthy process that could take months or more."

A spokeswoman for the Office of the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, which prosecuted Madoff and accountant David Friehling, declined to comment on the investigations.

Federal investigators have declined to identify who is the focus of their inquiries, but they are skeptical of the claims by some people who worked at the Madoff firm that they had no knowledge of the scheme.

Lawyers and white-collar crime experts have said all along that Madoff's decades-long scheme appeared to be too complex to have been the work of one person alone...

The trustee and regulators have sued several businessmen, who made billions in handling Madoff money through so-called feeder funds, charging that they knew or should have known the financier was running a fraud. (Reporting by Grant McCool, editing by Maureen Bavdek)

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