There's definitely more than meets the eye. Can one man really pull this off, on his own?
"I am sorry, I don't ask for forgiveness. I leave a legacy of shame to my family. I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I live in a tormented state... I cannot offer an excuse for my behavior... How do you excuse deceiving investors... and 200 employees? How do you excuse lying to my sons and two brothers? How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by you for 50 years and still stands by me? There is no excuse for that."
'Evil' swindler Madoff jailed for 150 years
AFP - Tuesday, June 30
NEW YORK (AFP) - - Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff was sentenced Monday to 150 years in jail for masterminding an "evil" multi-billion-dollar investment scam that cheated thousands of people around the world.
"It is the judgment of this court that Bernard Madoff should be sentenced to 150 years in jail," Judge Denny Chin said as he handed down the maximum term possible on 11 charges of fraud, theft and perjury.
He described Madoff's crimes as "extraordinarily evil" and said it was "not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper but one that takes a staggering human toll."
The tough sentence came even after Madoff, the former chairman of the Nasdaq, made a courtroom apology to his victims. "I am sorry," he told them simply. "I don't ask for forgiveness."
"I leave a legacy of shame to my family. I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I live in a tormented state," said the disgraced 71-year-old financier who now faces spending the rest of his life in prison.
"I cannot offer an excuse for my behavior," he added. "How do you excuse deceiving investors... and 200 employees?"
"How do you excuse lying to my sons and two brothers? How do you excuse lying to a wife who stood by you for 50 years and still stands by me? There is no excuse for that."
Some of Madoff's victims vented their fury as they addressed the court.
Cheryl Weinstein blasted Madoff as "a monster" and a "beast."
"He walks among us. But he is a beast who has fed upon us to satisfy his own needs... I am asking you to keep in a cage behind bars," she said.
Breaking into tears, Burt Ross, who lost five million dollars, said Madoff "has truly earned his reputation of being the most despised person in America today."
"I only hope that his jail sentence is long enough so that his jail cell becomes his coffin," said Michael Schwartz, 33, who said the money stolen from his family had been set aside to take care of his mentally disabled brother.
Judge Chin gave Madoff 10 days to appeal the sentence, but noted there had not been a single letter from friends or family testifying to his good deeds. "The absence of such support is telling," he said.
Madoff's wife, Ruth, finally broke her silence Monday to lash out her husband, saying: "All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to.
"The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known all these years," she said in a statement.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs weighed in later by saying the maximum sentence handed to Madoff would send an effective warning to other investors.
"The judge wanted to send a very strong signal to anybody that invests money on behalf of others of the amazing responsibility that they have to those investors and to the country," he said, adding "that message will be heard loud and clear."
The former Wall Street icon can expect to face a high security experience in jail rather than a more lax "prison camp" that other white collar criminals might be receive, according to former federal prosecutor William Devaney.
The decision, Devaney told AFP, is not for the judge but the court can make recommendations to the Bureau of Prisons.
Defense attorney Bradley Simon told AFP he thought Madoff would end up "with people who have committed other type of offences, more violent..."
The verdict came some six months after the biting economic downturn forced Madoff to unmask himself as behind one of the biggest financial scams in history.
Prosecutors say about 13 billion dollars was handed to Madoff. The financier himself has talked about losing some 50 billion dollars, which is believed to be the amount that would have been paid out had the funds been properly invested.
Among Madoff's victims were Hollywood celebrities, international movers and shakers, some of the world's most famous banks and Jewish charities, some of which were forced to close after the scheme unraveled.
Madoff told the court in March that of the billions of dollars that passed through his hands during the three-decade scam, he never invested one cent in the market. Instead he stashed the funds in a Chase Manhattan bank account.
The funds were then used to pay out "dividends" to investors in what is known as a "Ponzi scheme."
One lingering issue is how to return the stolen funds. Of the billions of dollars that were lost, prosecutors say only one billion dollars has been recovered.
The judge deferred the issue of restitution for another 90 days to give court-appointed liquidators more time to recover the missing funds.