Wow: Judge Denny Chin has handed down his verdict: Bernie Madoff has been sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum sentence. When it was announced, the courtroom erupted in cheers. Chin emphasized the symbolism of the sentence, noting that it was important for three reasons: retribution, deterrence, and as justice for all the victims, who are from all walks of life. He pulled out one victim’s letter and noted, “I was particularly struck by one story: A man invested his life savings; he died of a heart attack two weeks later. His widow went in to see Madoff, and he said, ‘Don’t worry, your money is safe with me.’” And so the widow invested more.
Victim Burt Ross began crying in the middle of his statement. His wife, standing beside him, rubbed his back. He was the only speaker to invoke Madoff’s religion. After speaking of his defrauding of Elie Wiesel, he said, “Nobody has done more to reinforce the stereotype that all we care about is money when no people has worked harder to help others.” He added, “May Satan grow a fourth mouth where Bernard Madoff deserves to spend the rest of eternity.”
As for Madoff himself, he addressed his victims and the court. “I cannot offer you any excuse for my behavior,” he said. “How do you excuse betraying thousands of investors who entrusted you with their life savings? How do you excuse betraying two hundred employees? How do you excuse lying to your brother and two sons? How do you excuse deceiving your wife of 50 years, who stood by you and still stands by you? … Although I may not have intended to cause harm, I did a great deal of harm … When I started this problem — this crime — I believed I could get out of it. I made an error of judgment. I could not accept the fact that I failed, I could not accept that mistake. I have left a legacy of shame for my family. People have accused me of being silent and unsympathetic. That’s not true. My wife, she cries herself to sleep every night.” He added that his wife would be releasing some sort of statement later today.
Oh, and as for the suit he got special permission to wear: It was charcoal gray, and he wore it with a white shirt and a very plain black tie. The tie just looked kind of odd.