The extent of Laurelton native Bernard Madoff’s $50 billion Ponzi scheme left a federal judge with no room for leniency after he sentenced the fraudulent investor to 150 years in prison Monday.
“No other white collar case is comparable in terms of the scope, duration and enormity of the fraud and the degree of the betrayal,” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin said as he sentenced Madoff, a former president of NASDAQ.
The 71-year-old Madoff, who grew up in Laurelton and attended Far Rockaway High School, where he met his wife, Ruth Madoff, orchestrated a Ponzi scheme that duped investors out of $50 billion.
Among his victims were New York Mets co-owner Fred Wilpon, Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel and Daily News Publisher Mort Zuckerman.
In addressing Madoff, Chin said the scheme was “not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one that takes a staggering human toll” and called the fraud “extraordinarily evil.”
U.S. Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-Bayside), who grilled U.S. Security and Exchange Commission investigators during a congressional hearing on the Madoff fraud in January, sent a letter to Madoff victims on the day of the sentencing, telling them he continues to seek federal income tax refunds Madoff investors paid on “phantom profits.”
Addressed to “Madoff Survivors,” Ackerman said it was “absolutely unconscionable for the government to turn its back on Mr. Madoff’s victims.”
Madoff has been in jail since he pleaded guilty to the Ponzi scheme March 12 as well as charges of securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, making false statements, perjury, making false filings with the SEC and theft from an employee benefit plan.
Madoff’s attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, asked for a 12-year sentence, but Chin could not be swayed.
Prosecutors hailed the 150-year sentence.
“The sentence imposed today recognizes the significance of Bernard Madoff’s crimes,” Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin said in a statement. “While today’s sentence is an important milestone, the investigation is continuing. We are committed to bringing additional charges against anyone else who bears criminal responsibility.”
Neither Ruth Madoff nor the couple’s two sons, who worked at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, have been charged.
In a statement, Ruth Madoff attempted to distance herself from her husband. The couple lived in Bay Terrace in the early years of their marriage.
Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz
©2009 Community News Group
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