Monday, June 29, 2009

Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years

Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison today for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in the history of Ponzi schemes. Although Mr. Madoff's attorney pled for leniency and a mere 12 years, the judge seems to have aimed for the maximum sentence, and that just short of what Mr. Madoff's victims wanted; public stoning or perhaps a more humane burning at the stake.

In honor of Bernie Madoff's sentencing today, the WSJ devoted the entire front page of the Money & Investing section to discussing a.) Where all the money went (Irving Picard has only scraped together $1.2 billion so far) and b.) How some of the hardest hit victims have adjusted their lifestyles to face their new financial reality. As for where all the money went, Jeffrey Picower and Stanley Chais may have some idea, as they collectively withdrew over $6.1 billion above and beyond their initial investment, despite claiming that they were victims. I'm sure the rest of Madoff's victims would have a few choice words to describe Mr. Picower and Mr. Chais, and none of them resemble "victim". Certainly Ms. Brown, the 60 year old profiled in the WSJ article who had to take in her 91 year-old mother and look for a job because both lost money, probably isn't particularly sympathetic to anyone skimming $6.1 billion off of the ponzi scheme that robbed them of their life savings. It seems that nobody has been immune to Mr. Madoff's inverse Midas touch. His wife Ruth, who enjoyed the high life for many many years, has just handed over all of her assets, including furs, jewelry and lush properties in Manhattan and Mantauk, is being forced to live off of a mere $2.5 million for the rest of her life. Anyone who lives in Manhattan will tell you that living the high life off of $2.5 million is preposterous. But then maybe she can go buy back her furs at half price in an auction.

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