In the News
Bernie Madoff Sentenced Monday to 150 Years
Neither his wife nor his sons were at his side
-The Betty Editors
UPDATE: Bernie Madoff was sentenced today to the maximum penalty – 150 years in prison. Of course, for the 71-year-old swindler, that means life.
According to the New York Post:
“I have left a legacy of shame,” Madoff said after a dozen of his dupes begged a judge to let him rot in jail. “This is something I will live in for the rest of my life.”
Madoff also defended his wife Ruth, who while not charged with a crime has become a reviled figure in a tragedy that made the Madoff name synonymous with unbridled greed.
It is not true, Madoff said in his six minute address, that Ruth Madoff has no sympathy for the victims. “She cries herself to sleep every night,” he said.
Bernie Madoff, the greatest swindler in history, will spend the rest of his life in jail. Madoff appeared in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan before Judge Denny Chin, who sentenced him to 150 years in federal prison. That is the maximum sentence that prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s office in New York requested, based on the number of Madoff’s victims and the amount of money he stole, which has been estimated in the billions.
On Friday his wife, Ruth Madoff, gave up almost $70 million in assets and reached a settlement that will sell off her properties in Palm Beach, Montauk, and Manhattan as well as the couple’s yacht and home in the South of France to shore up money for the victims. The settlement, however, doesn’t prevent the SEC or the Madoff trustee from coming after her funds in the future. Federal investigators have identified 1,341 investors in Madoff’s firm, with losses exceeding $13 billion. They’re still tallying the damage.
A group of victims sent the judge a 141-page collection of letters detailing the extent of the damage that Madoff had inflicted on them. Many of the victims said they had banked their life savings with Madoff’s firm and were ruined as a result of his scam. Some have had to sell their homes and go back to work after retirement. Some are almost destitute, living with relatives and applying for food stamps. Madoff even stole millions from his own sister and his wife’s sister. Twelve victims of his scheme spoke at the sentencing, like Maureen Ebel, who, the New York Post reports, “went from being a millionaire to a maid after Madoff snatched her nest egg.” Ebel called Madoff a “psychopath” and said, “I have lost the ability to care for myself in my old age. Now I must work full time to eat.”
In December, Madoff confessed his Ponzi scheme to his two sons who also worked in his office. They claim they worked only in the honest part of the business. Since that confession, they have not seen Madoff. They and Madoff’s brother, who also worked ith him, say they knew nothing about his illegal wheeling and dealing and did not help him in any way. Only his wife Ruth has visited once a week since he was put behind bars awaiting Monday’s sentencing.
How much she knew remains one of the most tantalizing questions. Attractive and outgoing, dressed in designer’s clothes, with her blond hair streaked by one of Manhattan’s top hairdressers, Ruth Madoff was always by her husband’s side. They often spent time together alone, eating several times a week, by themselves, in their favorite East Side restaurants. Since the scandal broke, Ruth has been barred from her hairdressers’ shop and has been photographed in glasses and jeans, her roots showing, riding the New York subway.
One can only wonder about the Madoffs: Did they both live in a constant state of fear that the scheme would be found out? Why did his sons and brother never have any curiosity about a business that was in the same building where they worked and which afforded them such a lavish lifestyle? Was Madoff himself never remorseful that he was stealing money from relatives and old friends and from charities that relied on him?
Madoff has been described by some as a “sociopath,” like a serial killer. The policeman who guarded him when he was under house arrest has said the conman had no sympathy for his victims and little remorse for what he had done. So even if Ruth Madoff was not an accomplice to the crime, how must she feel when she realizes that she spent her life with a monster?
Neither Ruth Madoff nor her sons attended Bernie Madoff’s sentencing. No wonder.