Riddle Me This

So Madoff has submitted his plea, will be sent to jail immediately and sentenced on the 16th of June, and everyone on television keeps saying some variation of the following:

“Madoff faces a 150 year sentence, which, for a 70 year old man, is effectively a life sentence.”

Considering life expectancy is somewhere in the 70’s, isn’t 150 years in jail a life sentence for anyone, not just a seventy year old?

Also, isn’t the more important aspect of the Madoff case the number of people involved in the conspiracy? This wasn’t just one guy. There were all the pople in his office, all the people he did business with, all the bankers who held the funds and got their cut for every transaction, the accountants who didn’t notice anything. When does that get discussed and investigated.

Or do we send Madoff off to jail, pay out the victims though the government insurance fund (my bad, SIPC is not government), and just pretend it was one guy who did all this?

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113 replies
  1. 1
    C Nelson Reilly says:

    Madoff is really going Galt

  2. 2
    Kit Smith says:

    I think the idea is that he isn’t actually being sentenced to life, and because his crimes were white collar and non-violent/drug-related, he could conceivably get out in 20-30 years on good behavior if he were to actually live that long. Hope he enjoys Club Fed; unlike a lot of his investors, he’s guaranteed three meals a day and stable housing for the rest of his life. Maybe not the retirement he envisioned, and probably too good for him too, but it’ll have to do.

  3. 3
    Michael says:

    He’s doing what is essentially an open plea to avoid cooperating with the government, and knows that he will spend the rest of his life in custody.

    The reason why he’s doing it is to protect his extended family – wife, sons, brother, niece, her husband – from asset seizures and prosecutions. He figures that there is a small chance (very unlikely, given the amounts involved) that by being the sacrificial lamb, the government will lose some of the fervor to harshly treat the others.

    Its a bad gamble, and a little rushed because of the pressure on his family, but it is about all he has.

  4. 4

    Attorneys for the victims are already asking about who helped. I’m willing to bet the his sentence will get shorter the longer he talks.

  5. 5
    Michael says:

    On a fun note, here is what he can expect:

    http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/.....refer=home

    Bernard Madoff, scheduled to plead guilty today to masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme in history, may have to fight off prison inmates who want to squeeze him for money or blame him for the Wall Street crash.“Madoff isn’t going to be real popular,” said Larry Levine, who served 10 years in federal prisons for securities fraud and narcotics trafficking and now advises convicts on surviving time behind bars. “All the guys there will have wives or parents who are losing their homes or their jobs or who can’t send money to them anymore. Everybody’s going to be blaming Bernie.”

  6. 6
    NonyNony says:

    Or do we send Madoff off to jail, pay out the victims though the government insurance fund, and just pretend it was one guy who did all this?

    Conspiracy is tough to prove – I’m sure that the defendants would argue that they were fooled by Madoff as much as the victims were.

    And we do so love our "lone man" narratives here in the US. We eat them up with a spoon. It doesn’t matter if our "lone man" builds a company with his "own two hands" from the ground up or if he’s a criminal who bilks the public for millions. We want that narrative of one guy who gets the credit or takes the blame, and so the guys in the background play off on that and use it to escape scrutiny.

    I’ll bet a few other folks end up getting swept up in the net in the end – a few accountants here or there who knew what they were doing, maybe a few other folks. And I’ll bet there are a goodly number of people who turned snitch on Madoff to the government in order to keep their own asses out of jail. But in the end we won’t hear much about these folks – maybe some reporter will write a book about the whole thing in a year or so and we’ll hear some mention of some of the things that no one wants to bother reporting on right now.

  7. 7
    aimai says:

    What "government insurance fund?" There is no payoff for the victims until the money has been discovered and Madoff is insisting it doesn’t exist. And, of course, in a real sense, it doesn’t. The scheme worked like this: people put X number of dollars into his funds and pulled out a tiny fraction on an episodic basis. The money they had invested with him kept "growing" according to his fictional accounting. What is he morally and legally liable for? The actual first infusion of cash or the first infusion plus the imaginary returns? In either event, he’s not producing all of the first amount, or any of the first plus second amount. Its been disbursed among other people either paying returns to later joiners or to his own family.

    I am completely opposed to the plea deal/sentencing since he is doing it in order to avoid informing on other people in the scheme. The government should go ahead and prosecute every person in his office and in his family until someone squeals and the wife should cough up the 70 million in lawyers fees if not in outright payback.

    aimai

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    Madoff refused to plead guilty to conspiracy charges– that’s why there weren’t any. I expect that the Feds will indict the sons and others in the not too distant future.

    As they should… my own opinion is that Madoff’s sons had the FBI phone number in their back pockets. I just can’t believe that they had no idea that dad was a crook.

  9. 9
    Michael says:

    Attorneys for the victims are already asking about who helped. I’m willing to bet the his sentence will get shorter the longer he talks.

    BOP screws these things up when they keep white collar guys isolated or in nice surroundings. They need to start sending them to the hellholes that their guidelines levels seem to justify – that would pry open more information than they could ever dream.

    Picture Bernie on the yard at Marion FCI, surrounded by hard core inmates sentenced on violent bank robberies – how long would he want to stay there?

  10. 10
    jibeaux says:

    Did anyone hear about the guy who wrote a detailed letter to, I believe the SEC begging them to look into this and explaining exactly the fraud being perpetrated? I can’t find a link so that’s my first request.

    It’s disheartening to me that someone could run a complete Ponzi scheme; have it be noticed by some people, if not a great many; who then do the best they can with that information; and nothing ever happens. More regulation is going to have to be coupled with some seriously more effective regulation.

  11. 11
    scav says:

    not to mention anything to protect belief in the system. He’s headed for canonization, no?
    Great men were Gods, if beggers could not kil e’m.

    Forget individual pitchforks, or even mobs of them: as this point we need massive cans of Raid or Bug (Banker?) Bombs. Drape the country in plastic wrap…..

  12. 12
    lutton says:

    Um, I know someone who has seen documents and other items out of the Madoff office, and their impression is that this wasn’t just one guy turning out fake financial statements in a back room somewhere.

    Conspiracy? You’d have to think so.

  13. 13
    MattF says:

    Guy who sent letter to the SEC was Harry Markopolis.

  14. 14
    jibeaux says:

    @aimai:

    This is a great point, but I wonder if the gubmint is motivated in part by his age and what is reported as his not so great health. It is frustrating when the big crooks die before we can lock em up for a little while, and trials could stretch this thing out for quite some time. Who was that Enron guy who died before anyone could get a judgment against him?

  15. 15
    jibeaux says:

    @MattF:

    Thanks very much. Good grief, he spent nearly 10 years trying to get them to listen to him.

  16. 16

    That is indeed the question. He had to produce ten of thousands of bogus statements and who knows how many SEC regulatory filings just to keep this massive scheme going. No one person could do it all by themselves. It would be physically impossible.

    This Brian Falconer piece in MoJo is pretty good and tells you something about the regulatory environment of the the past 15-20 years. (My emphasis added)

    Among those that did learn of Madoff’s money management business was Boston-based Rampart Investment Management Company, Inc. In late 1999, Frank Casey, then a senior vice president at the firm, had surreptitiously obtained the Madoff fund’s financials. He directed Markopolos and Chelo, who worked under him at Rampart, to reverse engineer Madoff’s results with an eye toward creating a similar fund for Rampart’s investors. What they discovered instead were discrepancies so obvious that Markopolos noticed them within minutes and "in less than four hours…proved mathematically that [Madoff] was a fraud," he told Congress. Markopolos took the team’s findings to the SEC in 2000, but federal regulators refused to pursue the case—that is, until the financial meltdown laid bare the fraud on its own and forced them to act.

    The big crime is that "everyone knew" something didn’t smell right, but most of them preferred to turn and look the other way. Those who did speak up were ignored by the very people sworn to regulate these criminals.

  17. 17
    KCinDC says:

    I imagine part of the motivation for avoiding a trial was that a trial, which would be a media frenzy, would vastly increase the number of people out there wanting to kill him, and there are quite enough of those already.

  18. 18
    KDP says:

    @jibeaux

    I was listening to Markopoulos testify a few weeks ago about working with the Boston SEC to investigate and report Madoff’s malfeasance. Boston SEC reported to New York SEC, which did nothing.

    Here is one link from the Boston Herald

    And here’s one from the NY Times

    @aimai

    Actually, there is limited recovery for investors through the Securities Investor Protection Corporation. They even have a pop-up for Madoff investors. http://www.sipc.org/

  19. 19
    Michael D. says:

    I am against the death penalty, as most know.

    I will make an exception, however, for people who willfully play a role in destroying the economy and the life savings of hundreds of thousands because they know that no matter what they do, We The People will be there to bail them out.

    And for people like Madoff.

  20. 20
    mellowjohn says:

    michael @ #3 et al.

    in the mafia, i believe it’s called "omerta."

  21. 21
    Nutella says:

    Madoff going to jail is a good thing, but what also must happen is a complete investigation of everyone he passed the stolen money to, not only so that the co-conspirators can be prosecuted but also so that as much as possible of the stolen money can be recovered.

    Everyone who received money from Madoff, whether they knew of his crimes or not, needs to have that money taken away and put into the restitution fund. His wife, for example, unless she can show that she earned or inherited some of the money she has now, must have gotten her money and possessions from Madoff’s crimes. Receiving stolen property is also a crime. Anything she and the other relatives got from Madoff needs to be taken away. Yes, including the condo and everything in it.

    Madoff being in jail (undoubtedly not the same kind of jail muggers and gang-bangers go to) is not enough of a deterrent to future thieves or a punishment for him. Everyone needs to see that no profit can be made from these things, that his possessions (including everything he passed on to his relatives) will all be sold at auction up to the amount he stole.

  22. 22
    Brandon T says:

    Does anyone know how liability issues work out here? The guy’s essentially committed theft on a massive scale–there’s got to be some way that his own assets can be seized. I mean, you can essentially make the argument that every payment he ever got from his "hedge fund" was in fact stolen income…

  23. 23
    Napoleon says:

    His is an additional fact that points to him having help in the scam. He took vacations, some of them lengthy. You can not take vacations if you are running a scam like his unless you have someone minding the scam in your absence. I heard a saying years ago to the effect that the best employee is going to be the one who ends up being the embezzler since they always have to be around to cover their tracks. By the way, for that very reason years ago when I applied for a higher management administrative job at a bank I was told that I would be required to take my vacation time. I would not have a choice.

    Yet somehow Madoff could jet to Europe for exended periods.

  24. 24
    zircon millionare says:

    Of course Bernie did it all on his own. To say otherwise suggests a conspiracy, and that kind of thing just doesn’t in the good old USA. So don’t mention it again. Try a little forgiveness and show some respect to the Titans of Wall Street.

    And more pictures of Tunch, please.

  25. 25
    Napoleon says:

    @Brandon T:

    I mean, you can essentially make the argument that every payment he ever got from his "hedge fund" was in fact stolen income…

    One think that is going to make that difficult is that apparently he actually had a major legitamate trading company that was sucessful and that he operated at the same time. It was located the floor below where the hedgefund was located in whatever building his offices were located (and it should have been a red flag to everyone that he wasn’t running his own hedgefund trades through his own trading firm). I suspect that is how they are going to argue that everything the wife has is clean.

  26. 26
    MattF says:

    Liability is a hard question. I suppose you need to know how much was actually stolen and how much was merely, erm, redistributed. It’s safe to assume that anyone who withdrew funds from the scheme was getting mostly other people’s money.

  27. 27
    o kanis says:

    Markopolos’s full testimony, plus his letter to the SEC. Worth every minute, highly entertaining.

    http://tinyurl.com/chgwrs

  28. 28
    o kanis says:

    Markopolos’s full testimony, plus his letter to the SEC. Worth every minute, highly entertaining.

    http://tinyurl.com/chgwrs

  29. 29
    The Other Steve says:

    150 year sentence usually means are you eligible for parole in 15.

    :-)

  30. 30
    4tehlulz says:

    @Michael: lol, like Bernie’s ever going to see Attica.

  31. 31
    geg6 says:

    Vanity Fair’s article this month on Madoff is fascinating. VF, being what it is, has the pulse of this crowd. The author even tried to get in on the Madoff scheme through friends of his in Aspen (and luckily wasn’t rich enough). From what I took away, there is no way on earth that Madoff’s family escapes charges. Both sons and all but one son-in-law worked for the firm. His wife also did and was an experienced trader. I think it’s possible the sons may have been somewhat naive up to a point, but the article makes clear that they knew long before the arrest that something wasn’t right and there was trouble down the line. And the wife? She’s into it up to her eyeballs.

    Being quite familiar with the Palm Beach area and the Jewish community there (and that’s one of the biggest groups of people he fleeced), if I was a Madoff or in any way connected to them, I’d steer very clear of Florida. It sounds very much like they would like Mossad to come in and do an Eichmann if they could.

  32. 32
    Nutella says:

    The next investigation needs to be the people at the SEC and other regulatory agencies who got written reports from Markopolos and failed to do their jobs. I’d like to see a few of them dramatically and publicly fired to keep all the other regulators motivated.

    Not just the individual SEC employees who got the Markopolos reports, but their supervisors all the way up the line, since clearly both the individuals screwed up and their supervisors failed to supervise them adequately.

    Nice dream, isn’t it? I don’t think anyone who makes six figures or more is ever punished in any way for their errors or their crimes any more.

  33. 33
    Zifnab says:

    @The Grand Panjandrum: I mean, at this point it wouldn’t be the least bit beyond the pale to investigate the SEC from top to bottom. You don’t just wave your hands and make an entire bureaucracy nod to your tune. He must have had friends on the inside sweeping these issues under the rug.

    It’s the good ole boys’ network at large. Madoff scratched a lot of backs to get where he is today.

    To be fair, I’m sure he’s not the single sole individual taking the heat. But he’s the biggest fish, so he’ll be getting all the headlines. Quite a few heads rolled once Enron came tumbling down (although not nearly enough).

  34. 34
    wilfred says:

    See Charles Keating.

  35. 35
    Comrade Dread says:

    How about the Chinese way of dealing with financial fraud? Just line them up and shoot the bastards.

  36. 36
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Over/under on how long it will take take Jim Cramer to advocate clemency for Madoff?

  37. 37
    o kanis says:

    Don’t hold your breath re the SEC. Mary Schapiro fired the head of enforcement Linda Thomsen…and that’s basically it, pending the SEC’s internal investigation.

    Markopolos gave the SEC A+ for incompetence and FINRA (industry self regulator) A+ for corruption. Former head of FINRA, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro, is now "reforming" the SEC.

    Lol!

  38. 38
    David Hunt says:

    If we start seeing stories about Madoff that include his middle name, I’d say that’s when we’ll know that there’s a "lone gunman" narrative taking shape around him.

    Lee Harvey Os…

  39. 39
    HyperIon says:

    When does that get discussed and investigated?

    Never. Too complicated.
    Besides we’re too busy watching American Idol or Hardball or Morning Joe.
    And by "we" I mean, of course, NOT me.

  40. 40
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @KDP: He was also on 60 Minutes a couple of weeks ago.

  41. 41

    @Zifnab: It will be interesting to see how far the investigation is carried. But I do suspect the "no one could have known" defense will be prominent. However, ridiculous it may be I can hear its hollow ring in the distance. homina, homina, homina …

  42. 42
    Calouste says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    How about the Chinese way of dealing with financial fraud? Just line them up and shoot the bastards.

    Well, outsourcing things to China is a "Good Thing" ™ according to the corporate elite, so I don’t see why it can’t be done for this particular segment of the market.

  43. 43
    Zifnab says:

    @Dennis-SGMM:

    Over/under on how long it will take take Jim Cramer to advocate clemency for investing with Madoff?

    Fix’d! If Jim Cramer had his own stock, I’d short the ever-loving shit out of it.

  44. 44
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Zifnab:
    The well-worn tradition of hanging the blame on low-level staffers will be followed to the letter. They’ll find some GS3 who was clearly responsible for hiding the whole mess.

  45. 45
    Elie says:

    #7 – aimai

    "The government should go ahead and prosecute every person in his office and in his family until someone squeals and the wife should cough up the 70 million in lawyers fees if not in outright payback."

    I completely agree

  46. 46
    John Cole says:

    What “government insurance fund?”

    Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

    People are eligible for up to a half million. Expect to hear more about this in the future.

  47. 47
    Rick Taylor says:

    People have probably already seen this, but just in case, Colbert’s piece on Ayn Rand and going Galt is funny.

  48. 48
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @John Cole:
    Ummm, is the SIPC up to it or did they fail to fund that one like they failed to fund the FDIC?

  49. 49
    MattF says:

    Indeed, the SIPC seems to be involved… I’m a little surprised. I wouldn’t have thought that the Madoff funds were insured, since they weren’t meant for the rabble…

  50. 50
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    “Madoff faces a 150 year sentence, which, for a 70 year old man, is effectively a life sentence.”

    I’ve heard that once you’ve done the first hundred years the last fifty are easy.

  51. 51
    Interrobang says:

    Did anyone other than me catch the NYT article several weeks ago where Madoff’s spokesperson said that Madoff would be going to jail as soon as he finished disbursing about another $30M in "gifts" to his friends and family? I can’t pull the cite because I’m at work, and I saved the file at home, but that one quote is basically evidence that everyone in his organisation knew he was defrauding people, and they didn’t have a problem with it.

    Imagine, having the chutzpah to tell the New York Freakin’ Times that you’ll go to jail, just as soon as you finish stealing…

  52. 52
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @MattF, I think this is going to be an interesting ruling in the end. They have been obsessed with the question of whether Madoff made any stock purchases on behalf of his clients. The reason this matters *a lot* is if he never did (and this appears to be the case) then it’s not fudged numbers on an investment portfolio, it’s a pure scam, and anyone who got in early and therefore received 15+ years of lovely payouts can be on the hook for those who got in late and lost everything.

    We definitely haven’t seen the last of this case.

  53. 53
    eric_U says:

    I’m against the death penalty. But I could be convinced that torturing Madoff is not a bad idea.

  54. 54
    Napoleon says:

    @Comrade Darkness:

    My guess is that they maybe able to go back somewhere around 4 years and recover payments on the basis they were "fraudulent conveyances" and then split the recovery among the claimants. But 15 years is almost certainly way beyond the statute of limitations.

  55. 55
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @John Cole: Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC).

    Ugh, if that fund kicks in on this case it is run by idiots too. Since the Madoff deal was never a security, never real, this should not kick in. Otherwise there is nothing to stop someone from pretending to take money from a bunch of people for say, 4 years, pretending to pay them interest and then run off to South America, leaving their buddies to pretend they lost a bunch of money, say 499k or so, each, and make a claim to the SIPC for it.

    If the SIPC pays out on a situation where the "fund" is all paper then they are open to utter abuse.

  56. 56
    J. says:

    Find out where the money is and then tar and feather him — on primetime — I say!

  57. 57
    John Cole says:

    @Comrade Darkness: What do you mean, “if?” They have already made payments.

  58. 58
    JenJen says:

    @geg6: I just finished reading the Madoff Vanity Fair piece this morning. It’s gripping, it really is (so was the preceding piece about Walter Noel and his social-climbing family; they were also up to their eyeballs in Madoff).

    If someone could explain this for me… is what John is saying true; are Madoff’s victims going to get their money back from the government? As in, us? For serious? What am I not understanding here?

    If that’s true, then we need to appoint Garry Marshall as the casino owner in "Lost In America" to hear their cases. "The Desert Inn has heart! The Desert Inn has heart!"

    Sure, I feel bad for the people who were scammed, but too bad. It’s gambling. You win some, you lose some. I don’t get it.

  59. 59
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @John Cole,
    Ugh, missed that. I thought they were waiting for confirmation on how the "fund" was structured to see if it applied. I’ll just file it under more kleptocracy in that case.

    @Napoleon,
    It may end up as a civil settlement though.

  60. 60
    Comrade Darkness says:

    @JenJen,

    Looks like it. Boy have I got scam for you all. Who’s in?

  61. 61
    Rosali says:

    The Madoff investors who got in, made some money, and cashed out their investments before the Ponzi scheme was revealed will also have their assets seized even if they had no idea of what was going on. Basically, they can’t profit from what was an illegal scheme all along. Here’s a Newsweek article explaining it.

  62. 62

    His family has to have known. I would think you can’t run an investment house and just pocket the money and not have it clear that a swindle is taking place.

    I think it was in the documentary "Grass" with Woody Harrelson that they showed a (ex) Boeing engineer who was growing his own plants in their shed and the governement was going to put his wife in prison too as well as put his young children in foster homes unless he pleaded guilty to cultivation for sale (as I recall).

    They should sweat Madoff and every member of his family and every corporate crook who looked the other way while they fed at the trough.

  63. 63
    MattF says:

    What it says here: "Though created by the Securities Investor Protection Act (15 U.S.C. §78aaa et seq., as amended), SIPC is neither a government agency nor a regulatory authority. It is a nonprofit, membership corporation, funded by its member securities broker-dealers."

  64. 64
    geg6 says:

    @JenJen:

    They made mention of the fund in the article. I think they said, if they find the victims qualify (which they may not, for which reasons I cannot remember), then it’s a limited amount of about a half million each. Peanuts, really, considering the sums being invested according to the article.

  65. 65
    bootlegger says:

    @Rosali: What if you made some money then gave it to Sir William Stanford to invest? Presumably Willie and Bernie will be swapping love lotion in the same prison.

  66. 66
    John Cole says:

    Anyone have a link to the Madoff piece in Vanity Fair? I can’t find anything on the front page.

  67. 67
    MattF says:

    Try this.

  68. 68
    JenJen says:

    @John Cole: John, here ya go. Be sure to set aside a lot of time, it’s a worthy read. I’d pick up the dead tree version if I were you; so many good articles this month. Walter Noel’s social-climbing family, for one. And Somalian Pirates! Arrrr!

    Vanity Fair – Madoff’s World – April 2009

    Edit: I see MattF already posted this. Sorry, Matt!

  69. 69
    The Moar You Know says:

    @John Cole: The payments should not have been made; this was not an investment fund. No trades made, no stocks bought or sold. This was nothing more than a classic Ponzi scheme. I feel bad for the investors, but not only are they going to lose money they had invested in this "fund", they are legally liable to return any money that they received as profits from the "fund".

  70. 70
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    I just hope that this doesn’t result in the sort of over-regulation that would stifle innovation and creativity in our financial markets.

  71. 71
    binzinerator says:

    Considering life expectancy is somewhere in the 70’s, isn’t 150 years in jail a life sentence for anyone, not just a seventy year old?

    Apparently they think he will defraud death of at least 100 years, so the 150 is necessary to have enough years left in his sentence so he dies like the rest of us honest folks.

  72. 72
    Indylib says:

    @LanceThruster:

    I think it was in the documentary "Grass" with Woody Harrelson that they showed a (ex) Boeing engineer who was growing his own plants in their shed and the governement was going to put his wife in prison too as well as put his young children in foster homes unless he pleaded guilty to cultivation for sale (as I recall).

    If only the people who go after financial and investment fraud were half as good as the DEA and local police are at getting people to plead guilty on marijuana charges and seizing all their assests.

  73. 73
    TenguPhule says:

    Madoff being in jail (undoubtedly not the same kind of jail muggers and gang-bangers go to) is not enough of a deterrent to future thieves or a punishment for him.

    I favor organ harvesting.

    Surely there’s a market for that liver, heart, lungs, kidneys and gall bladder.

  74. 74
    Rick Taylor says:

    This was nothing more than a classic Ponzi scheme. I feel bad for the investors, but not only are they going to lose money they had invested in this "fund", they are legally liable to return any money that they received as profits from the "fund".

    Investors need to be hurt. Big companies who bought derivative insurance or put their money into Ponzi schemes need to loose it. I don’t like that, but only when corporate scandal actually starts hurting corporate America will they start look on regulation as something that might protect them, rather than something that just limits them. Only then will there be a possibility they might stop reflexively arguing against any sort of regulation.

  75. 75
    eyelessgame says:

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite stories — which not only applies nicely to Madoff but also applies to how my to-do list at my job sometimes feels.

    Some time ago in Ohio (or thereabouts) an accountant was convicted of 96 counts of embezzlement. It was petty money – a few hundred here, a few thousand there – but he was clearly guilty. The law specified he could be sentenced up to 2 years in prison for a conviction of embezzlement.

    The judge announces he is sentenced to 192 years in prison – two years per charge.

    On hearing the judge, the defendant – who’s this nebbishy guy in his fifties – is overcome by grief, and collapses. The judge asks the baliff to bring him to the bench. "Son, are you okay?"

    The man collects himself and nods, looking down.

    "Does that seem like an awful lot of time?" He nods.

    "Well, you know, you don’t actually have to do all one hundred ninety-two years."

    The man looks up, a tiny hint of hope in his eyes. "I don’t?"

    "Nah," says the judge. "Just do as much as you can."

  76. 76
    jcricket says:

    One of Madoff’s sons was the compliance officer for the legitimate side of Madoff’s business. You’d think a compliance officer would recognize/investigate/care about a 20-year ponzi scheme of billion-dollar proportions going on within the firm where he worked.

    Unless Madoff pulls a Ken Lay and dies before sentencing, Madoff’s associates and family are going to end up in court and with their assets seized in short order.

    Edited to add: The feeder funds are most certainly going to be on the losing end of some pretty big lawsuits as well. Due diligence was what investors paid them for, and this is a failure of massive order. Those feeder funds have money investors can get their hands on.

  77. 77
    Rick Taylor says:

    I tried to add a little the previous comment but the blog wouldn’t let me:

    Now when AIG rips off companies for billions by offering hedgefund insurance it doesn’t have the collateral to cover, we the taxpayers pay off that insurance. So of course they’re going to continue to lobby against regulation. They don’t need companies like AIG to be regulated if the government is just going to spend a few hundred billion dollars to cover any broken promises.

  78. 78
    Indylib says:

    OT Jim Cramer is an even bigger cringing WATB than I thought he was.

    On Martha Stewart??!! Reaaaallly?

  79. 79
    Nutella says:

    If it’s really true that the Madoff fund never bought any securities at all, then everybody in his company who had anything at all to do with securities had to have been in on it. It wasn’t some subtle scam only the senior scammers could detect. If there were no purchases at all, everybody except the receptionist must have known.

    But only the little people pay taxes and only the little people have accountability, so I expect the receptionist at Madoff and the receptionist at the SEC will be the only ones to be fired or indicted.

  80. 80
    gex says:

    @jibeaux: Funny how these guys can be on cruises and golf courses right up until the time the indictments come in. Then suddenly they are so damn frail and in failing health.

  81. 81
    TenguPhule says:

    OT Jim Cramer is an even bigger cringing WATB than I thought he was.

    Unpossible!

  82. 82
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    @Indylib:
    I don’t know what Cramer is afraid of. If worse comes to worse he can always just snort The Daily Show’s set.

  83. 83
    binzinerator says:

    @jibeaux:

    It’s disheartening to me that someone could run a complete Ponzi scheme; have it be noticed by some people, if not a great many; who then do the best they can with that information; and nothing ever happens.

    That’s the biggest reason why there has to be a lot more people involved in this, people with the power and position to run interference or eighty-six such information.

    I have no doubt if ever a list of the conspirators were discovered it would read more like a Who’s Who of banking and finance and their supposed regulators.

  84. 84
    geg6 says:

    Sorry, this is completely OT, but it cracked me up and I think we could all use some humor today.

    Far be it from to pat many frat boys on the back, but this welcome given to the Westboro Baptist Church to their campus is priceless:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v.....r_embedded

  85. 85
    Rick Taylor says:

    Chuck Norris, a prominent Republican who publicly endorsed on of the major candidates for the Republican nomination to the Presidency and appeared in commercials with them, is now speculating that Texas might succeed from the union, and that he might serve as its President should that happen

    Actor Chuck Norris has his eyes on the presidency, but not the White House. Norris wrote that he would be interested in becoming the president of Texas, if the state were ever to secede from the Union.

    "I may run for president of Texas," Norris wrote Monday in a column posted at WorldNetDaily. "That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state."

    The actor claimed "thousands of cell groups will be united around the country in solidarity over the concerns for our nation" and said that if states decide to secede from the union, that Texas would lead the way.

    "Anyone who has been around Texas for any length of time knows exactly what we’d do if the going got rough in America," Norris wrote..

    I hope someone asks Huckabee’s opinion about all this.

  86. 86
    Indylib says:

    @TenguPhule:

    He fucking whined to Martha Stewart about how he was scared of Jon Stewart. Christ on a quidditch broom!

  87. 87
    geg6 says:

    @JenJen:

    The one on the banking debacle in Iceland is also quite instructive. Apparently, Icelandic males (and no females at all, interestingly) collectively fell under the illusion that they, too, were Masters of the Universe due to their manly man-ness, being fishermen and aluminum smelters and all. What happened there is truly mind boggling. And the description of the mindset and utter cluelessness by the author and by an Alcoa exec and other European businessmen are hysterical. I kept reading it and thinking that the Icelandic male mindset is EXACTLY the same as the mindset we are seeing among the Galtians right now and the Village every single day. It really is stunning to see.

  88. 88
    AnneLaurie says:

    The big crime is that "everyone knew" something didn’t smell right, but most of them preferred to turn and look the other way. Those who did speak up were ignored by the very people sworn to regulate these criminals.

    Hell, don’t forget that some portion of his "innocent" investors realized anything promising returns at that level had to be a scam of some kind — they just wanted to get their share of the booty!

    One problem with the SIPA restitution… I remember a tv news show saying that pension funds and similar entities were usually treated as "one individual" for restitution purposes. So, for instance, an insurance office or doctor’s practice where 15 or 50 employees’ IRAs were entirely vested in Madoff stocks were going to end up splitting a solitary payment of $500,000 between them.

    I’m against the death penalty. But I could be convinced that torturing Madoff is not a bad idea.

    Only until we’re sure he’s given up all possible information concerning his ill-gotten stash, of course. Given Madoff’s gilded lifestyle, requiring him to conform to the standards required of any common parolee — finding a minimum-wage job that’ll hire a convicted felon, renting a room or apartment when he’s black-listed on the ‘bad tenant’ lists, and conforming to whatever invasive or humiliating drug tests, workplace visits, or surprise home inspections the Git-Tuff-on-Crimnls legislators can dream up — would probably be decried as cruel & unusual punishment.

    But then, I’ve always believed the mooted ‘deterrant’ effect of capital punishment was aimed at the wrong targets. A semi-literate, brain-damaged addict with a lifelong history of physical abuse and incarceration — in other words, the typical Death Row prisoner — simply doesn’t have the capacity to understand that killing the convenience-store clerk for fifty bucks and a twelve-pack is not cost-effective. On the other hand, if we "humanely" murder Bernie Madoff for his crimes (preferably at the new Yankee Stadium, where we can sell tickets & pay-per-view), how many cream-of-the-Harvard-MBA-crop Young Bulls will be led to weigh future grand larceny on a Vanity Fair scale against the possibility of suffering the same ignominy?

  89. 89
    Bill Hackman says:

    What government insurance? Hedge funds aren’t insured, except maybe by A.I.G. A lot of good that will do them.

  90. 90
    gex says:

    @AnneLaurie: Heh. You act like these guys are able to assess risk.

  91. 91
    bootlegger says:

    @Rick Taylor: It seems that Chuckles is also participating in Beck’s "We Surround Them". Before I looked it up it spooked me when I thought of the threat it implied, then I was titillated by the homoerotic nature of the thing, until finally I sighed as I realized it was just one Big Group Hug.

    Hmmm, it says I have to believe in 7 of their 9 principles and I disagree completely with 2 and 7, and half of 4 and 6, which leaves me only 6 total principles! OMG, I’m now surrounded! Or am I Left Behind? I can’t tell anymore.

  92. 92
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    Actor Chuck Norris has his eyes on the presidency, but not the White House. Norris wrote that he would be interested in becoming the president of Texas, if the state were ever to secede from the Union.

    A spokesman for Norris later denied that the actor was seeking a Federal grant to fund Texas’ secession effort.

  93. 93
    bootlegger says:

    Oh, this is delish.
    Beck’s principle #7 says "Government cannot force me to be charitable. ", but Value #6 is "charity".
    We Surround Them In Cognitive Dissonance.

  94. 94

    @bootlegger: Nah, that is standard trope. It just means that the menu peuple should not be able to turn to the government for help, but should wait for the crumbs to fall from the master’s table.

    Merely one of many conservative arguments made in bad faith.

  95. 95
    Comrade Stuck says:

    The Dow is up 200 plus points today. Guess that Reagan tax cut is finally kicking in.

  96. 96
    Stooleo says:

    Off Topic

    Cognitive dissonance 1
    Andrew Sullivan 0

  97. 97
    TenguPhule says:

    Greatest reaction to Madoff’s guilty plea: "I don’t think he has a sincere bone in his body. I ‘d stone him to death."

  98. 98
  99. 99
    different church-lady says:

    John, John, John… (shakes head sady)

    You keep listening to the words they say. Forget about that and just listen to the soothing cadence of their speech.

  100. 100
    Josh Hueco says:

    OT, but Baylor just upset Kansas in the Big12 Tourney. Wheeeeeeeee!

  101. 101
    geg6 says:

    @Stooleo:

    I didn’t experience John’s change of heart, so perhaps I’m completely wrong here.

    But I sorta feel sorry for poor Andrew. As that post points out, he’s a lost soul in every way. Nothing he’s passionately believed in has turned out to deserve that passion or belief, not his spiritual beliefs, not his political heroes, and not even his understanding of economics. And he simply cannot accept finding himself as one of those who he, just a few short years ago, villified and demonized.

    I’ve been a dirty fucking hippie lib all my life. Have I been disappointed by some of what my side has done over the years? Hell, yeah. Many, many, many times and never more than from 2000-2008. But whatever they did and no matter how many times they disappointed me, they never went so far as to make me question my most deeply held beliefs and associations. It is a painful thing to go through that, I would think.

    Andrew can be such a wanker, but I have some compassion for him and his cognitive dissonance. I’d have it, too, if I was in his shoes.

  102. 102
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @geg6: Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18

  103. 103
    josephdietrich says:

    Considering life expectancy is somewhere in the 70’s, isn’t 150 years in jail a life sentence for anyone, not just a seventy year old?

    That reminds me of something else that was driving me crazy today, regarding Iraqi shoe-thrower Muntadhar al-Zeidi: I kept on hearing variations in the news of how "throwing shoes at someone is considered impolite / a grave insult in Iraqi culture." Well, no sh*t. In what culture, exactly, is it considered polite behavior?

  104. 104
    HyperIon says:

    @Stooleo: oh, poor andy. well, at least he acknowledges he "war-mongered". what a jerk.

  105. 105
    HyperIon says:

    @geg6:

    Andrew can be such a wanker, but I have some compassion for him and his cognitive dissonance. I’d have it, too, if I was in his shoes.

    he made very bad choices.
    at least he is clever enough to figure that out.
    but he’s still a jerk.

  106. 106
    bago says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: I think two words are sufficient. Gay Catholic. If this is not true I blame my catholic understanding.

  107. 107
    Blue Raven says:

    @josephdietrich:

    That reminds me of something else that was driving me crazy today, regarding Iraqi shoe-thrower Muntadhar al-Zeidi: I kept on hearing variations in the news of how "throwing shoes at someone is considered impolite / a grave insult in Iraqi culture." Well, no sh*t. In what culture, exactly, is it considered polite behavior?

    There is a difference between being impolite and delivering a deliberate and deep insult. American white culture as an aggregate doesn’t have the same rich tradition of the complexity of the insult as other cultures. Calling the shoe-throwing impolite is like calling being covered in cow dung a little smelly. "Grave insult" for our mindset is not easily communicated. It’s something on the order of having a bucket of pig’s blood dumped on your head after being crowned queen of the prom in a rigged election.

  108. 108
    Blue Raven says:

    Moderation? Moderation for WHAT? I’m trying to see the keyword in 107 that would fire the filter and I’m completely clueless.

    Oh, wait. I know… references to another meaning for a section of a ship’s sails paired with election… geez, John, you’re not a Rethug anymore. Update the filter. ;)

  109. 109
    mak says:

    One possible explanation for accepting Bernie’s plea now while putting off sentencing is to allow prosecutors to gather info on the family, bring charges against them before sentencing, then bargain with Bernie to start talking.

    Between the softening up he gets in prison and the spectre of seeing his entire family behind bars forever due to his greed, he may just decide to stop "jerking around" the prosecutors (a quote from the Daily Beast piece yesterday) and remember where he put all that loot.

    Bernie will die in prison. The real bargaining will commence over how much time his wife, sons, brother, and niece will spend in the pokey, and how much booty will remain when they get out.

  110. 110
    raincntry says:

    What’s lost here is that everyone who dealt with Bernie had a duty of due diligence to their clients. Their failure to uphold their duty is certainly actionable in civil court and should cost all of those people’s license to practice their current profession as well as a very steep financial penalty. We have not heard the last of this fraud, not by a long shot.

  111. 111
    r€nato says:

    Madoff refused to plead guilty to conspiracy charges—that’s why there weren’t any. I expect that the Feds will indict the sons and others in the not too distant future.

    TPM published Madoff’s allocution, where he tried to be very, very clear that the other parts of his business were on the up-and-up and all of the swindling and illegality was solely committed by his investment advisory firm.

    That’s Bernie trying to spare his family, something we would all likely do in such circumstances.

    As painful as it may be, let’s hope this is not the last we hear of l’affaire Madoff. There’s surely more to it than just Bernie.

  112. 112
    r€nato says:

    I am against the death penalty, as most know. I will make an exception, however, for people who willfully play a role in destroying the economy and the life savings of hundreds of thousands because they know that no matter what they do, We The People will be there to bail them out.

    Lately I have been struggling mightily with the desire to see these Wall Street scumbags – Madoff, John Thain, Mozilo, basically the entire cast of characters in TPM’s Axis of Weasels – given the Mussolini treatment*.

    I really mean it, I’m not saying this to be hyperbolic. There’s a part of me that knows that’s wrong and uncivilized. There’s another part of me that knows they fucking deserve it and it’s about the only thing that might curb future misbehavior of the hypergreedy hypernarcissistic dickheads in the upper tiers of the financial world, who apparently are absolutely convinced they are fucking untouchable.
    *executed and hung by their heels from a lamppost by an angry mob, their corpses left out for a while as an example to others and then taken down and further abused...

  113. 113

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