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June 25, 2009

Why Bernie Madoff won't get a record white-collar sentence

In this posta few weeks ago, I put forward a "bleg from a Forbes reporter seeking to "compile a list of longest federal sentences for white-collar criminals, specifically financial criminals."  The product of the reporter's efforts now appears in this effective piece, headlined "It Could Have Been Worse For Madoff : Bernie Madoff may have committed the biggest white-collar crime, but he won't get the longest white-collar sentence."  Here is how the piece starts:

Bernard Madoff may have confessed to the largest investment fraud in history, but that doesn't mean he'll get the longest white-collar sentence when he faces a federal judge on June 29.

Madoff, 71, confessed to running a $65 billion ponzi scheme that spanned decades and affected thousands of investors. He faces a statutory maximum of 150 years for the 11 counts to which he pleaded guilty in March.  If Judge Denny Chin decides to hand down all that time, it would still be only the fourth-longest sentence handed down in recent years to a white-collar defendant, according to an analysis by Forbes.

In any case, Madoff will almost certainly die in prison.  So will Sholman Weiss, currently serving the longest federal sentence for a white-collar crime.  In 2000 a Florida judge sent him away for 845 years for the $450 million collapse of National Heritage Life Insurance.  Weiss was convicted and sentenced after he fled the U.S. for Austria.  Later apprehended and returned, he's currently housed in a federal prison outside Scranton, Pa.  The Bureau of Prisons lists his release date as Nov. 23, 2754.

June 25, 2009 at 06:03 PM | Permalink

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Comments

One wonders if sentences far in excess of the natural life of the defendant do more harm or more good by conveying the impression that our sentencing system is grossly disconnected from reality.

Posted by: ohwilleke | Jun 25, 2009 7:45:44 PM

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