Madoff Gets Life—and then Some

It may be of little consolation to his victims, but a federal judge gave Bernard Madoff a sentence that should keep him behind bars for the rest of his life.

Federal prosecutors had requested 150 years—the maximum term, according to federal sentencing guidelines—and got it. Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange, and his accountant are the only people thus far to face criminal charges in connection with the fraud, in which an estimated $65 billion was lost.

United States District Judge Denny Chin, in sentencing Madoff, stated: “Objectively speaking, the fraud was staggering” and that “the breach of trust was massive.” Chin described Madoff’s crimes as “extraordinarily evil” and said that Madoff’s multibillion dollar Ponzi scheme was “not merely a bloodless crime that takes place on paper but one that takes a staggering human toll.”


Judge Chin also said that “No other white collar case is comparable in terms of the scope, duration and enormity of the fraud and the degree of the betrayal.” (See “Ponzi Schemes: Side by Side.”)

As part of his sentence, Madoff, 71, was also ordered to forfeit a total of $170,799,000,000, which represents the total proceeds of and property involved in certain of Madoff’s crimes. Judge Chin had entered a preliminary order of forfeiture on June 26, which completely divested Madoff of his interest in all property, including real estate, investments, cars, and boats, in partial satisfaction of the forfeiture judgment.

Madoff had been in custody since he pleaded guilty on March 12 to an 11-count Information charging securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and theft from an employee benefit plan (see “Madoff-Related Suits Main Cause of Litigation Surge).