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June 27, 2009

Feds seeking the max for Bernie Madoff

As detailed in pieces in the New York Times and in the New York Law Journal, federal prosecutors "recommended on Friday that Bernard L. Madoff be sentenced to 150 years in prison for conducting his enormous worldwide Ponzi scheme."

Here is more from the NYTimes piece: That term is the maximum established for his crime under nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines. Although it would be a purely symbolic sentence even for a young prisoner — and Mr. Madoff is 71 — prosecutors said it was warranted by the “extraordinary dimensions” of his crimes.

“He engaged in wholesale fraud for more than a generation,” said Marc Litt, an assistant United States attorney, in a memo sent to Federal District Judge Denny Chin, who will sentence Mr. Madoff on Monday. Although Mr. Madoff testified in March that his Ponzi scheme began about 1991, Mr. Litt said in his brief that a confidential presentencing report shows it began at least a decade earlier.

“The sheer scale of the Madoff fraud calls for severe punishment,” Mr. Litt continued. Comparing his crime with others that have come before the federal courts in New York “only underscores the enormity of Madoff’s offenses,” he added.

Anyone interesting in reviewing the entire Government sentencing memorandum can find it at this link.

June 27, 2009 at 01:34 PM | Permalink

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Comments

The New York Times is certainly wrong in its reporting, since there is no federal sentencing guideline range that includes a term of 150 years imprisonment. That may be the total of the statutory maximum terms, running consecutively, but it isn't "the maximum established for his crime under nonbinding federal sentencing guidelines." Even if the Guidelines recommend life imprisonment (which they may here; I haven't checked) in a case where life imprisonment, as such, is not authorized (which would be the case here), the Guidelines only call for the imposition of maximum terms "to the extent necessary to produce a combined sentence equal to" the range. USSG 5G1.2(d). Putting aside the question of whether a sentence equal to or exceeding life expectancy is appropriate (on whatever criteria one would care to invoke) in this case, a sentence far exceeding that length is unlawful, contrary to the Guidelines, and not calculated to promote respect for law or the legal system.

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