Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Madoff Gets Life In Plea Deal

Although there are many crooks on Wall Street and in the financial services industry as a whole, if there is a public enemy number one it would be Bernie Madoff. Madoff had run the largest ponzi scheme of all time and was only caught years after he had begun perpetrating his massive fraudlent scheme. Thanks to an inept, lazy and possibly complicit SEC, the lives of thousands, along with the beneficiaries of many non-profits, have been ruined. This afternoon the criminal mastermind made a plea deal where he gets life in prison.

From The NY Times:

Update | 4:14 p.m. Lawyers said in a court hearing on Tuesday that Bernard L. Madoff, the disgraced financier accused of running the largest Ponzi scheme in history, would plead guilty to charges that would result in a life sentence.

The news came during a hearing in which Mr. Madoff said he would retain his current lawyer despite conflicts of interest. That lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, confirmed that Mr. Madoff was expected to plead guilty. No plea agreement was presented on Tuesday.[...]

In their letter to Mr. Sorkin outlining the calculations on which they based the estimate of the sentencing guidelines, prosecutors said they intend to seek criminal forfeiture of $170 billion. That figure represents the proceeds traceable to the charges of securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud and theft from an employee benefit fund. The government said it would also seek nearly $800 million in forfeiture of property involved in the money laundering charges.

The first thing that comes to mind is....why would he take a plea that results in him going to jail for the rest of his life? Were the waves of built-up remorse, held in for so many years, suddenly unleashed over his soul, so that he must atone for his sins to save his soul? I doubt it. Though I have another idea in mind.

Martin Luther King once said that, "One who condones evils is just as guilty as the one who perpetrates it." What fate Bernie is trying to avoid is still up for debate, but there must be a reason why this case won't go to trial. All the details that would come out in discovery, the trial and everything else might just expose more than what Bernie did by himself. No matter how smart Mr. Madoff is, there is no way on Earth that he could have gotten away with such a scheme for so long without some degree of assistance from an outside party. Whether that help came from the SEC, some other government agency or elsewhere....it seems quite likely that those that condoned Mr. Madoff's crime for years on end are getting off scot free.