Madoff Sentenced to 150 Years for Ponzi Scheme
Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York announced the sentence just moments after Madoff apologized to his victims.
"I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created," Madoff said. "I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life."
Turning to face some of his victims, he addressed them directly: "Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry."
Madoff said he was not asking for forgiveness and not offering any excuses for his behavior.
"How can you excuse betraying thousands of investors?" he asked. "How can you excuse deceiving hundreds of employees? How can you excuse lying to and deceiving your wife who still stands by you?"
Victims urged a judge to hand down the maximum life sentence against Bernard Madoff, the mastermind of the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme ever. "We implore you to give the maximum sentence at a maximum prison for this deplorable low life," said one of the victims in court before Madoff spoke. "This is a violent crime without a tangible weapon."
Many of Madoff's investors were wiped out financially by the scam and sent letters to Judge Chin requesting he spend the rest of his life behind bars. Nine of the letter-writers were expected to speak in court on Monday.
Speaking on behalf of his wife and looking at Madoff, the victim said, "I have a marriage made in heaven. You have [a] marriage made in hell, and that's where you'll return. May God spare you no mercy."
The 150-year sentence is the maximum that federal prosecutors in New York requested, based on the number of Madoff's victims, the amount of money he stole and the extent of the damage he caused.
Judge Chin said that the Federal Department of Probation had recommended a 50-year sentence.
Madoff, who was stripped of his property in a legal action Friday, confessed on March 12 to running a massive Ponzi scheme. He pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering, perjury, false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and other crimes.
Lawyer Ira Lee Sorkin, who represents Madoff, asked for a 12-year sentence. In a letter to the judge, Sorkin explained that his 71-year-old client "has an approximate life expectancy of 13 years" and isn't likely to outlive the requested sentence by more than a year.