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March 10, 2009

Running the federal sentencing guideline numbers for Bernie Madoff

MadoffGraphic031009 The recent legal developments in the prosecution of Bernie Madoff (details here) have lots of folks buzzing about not just his expected guilty plea, but also his possible federal sentence.  Helpfully, today's Boston Herald has this new article that, as this graphic shows, runs through the basic guideline calculations for Bernie Madoff based on what we all think we know about his big-time financial fraud.  Here are excerpts from the article:

It’s the one “big score” that Bernard Madoff probably wishes he wasn’t about to make. Experts say Madoff, who’s expected to plead guilty Thursday to running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, rates about 52 points on a scale federal judges use when setting sentences. The bad news for Madoff: Anything over 42 usually translates into life behind bars.

“This guy is going to jail for the rest of his life - the only question is whether he goes in now or goes in later,” Boston white-collar defense lawyer Tom Hoopes said.... Even if Madoff helps investigators unravel the case and go after any accomplices, Hoopes believes a judge won’t cut the man’s score by more than 25 percent. That would still leave 39 points, or enough for the 70-year-old Madoff to get at least 22 years behind bars....

Defense lawyer Willis Riccio thinks Madoff will get about 15 years, but “that’s a life sentence in the sense that Madoff might not live out his term.” However, alleged victim George Christin fears Madoff will serve as little as five years. “He probably set things up so the SEC can’t figure anything out without his input,” said the Bedford man, whose family lost $2.5 million. “Madoff will use that as leverage to get way less than life in prison.”

Besides, Christin, a 60-year-old special-education teacher who’s scrapped plans to retire at 65, doesn’t even see a life sentence as punishment enough. “There’s no way the scales will ever be balanced,” he said. “For justice to be done, they’d have to make that man live in the slums of Calcutta and eat garbage for the rest of his life.”

Some related Madoff posts:

March 10, 2009 at 09:12 AM | Permalink


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I suggest Mr. Madoff's attorneys obtain the most recent edition of "171 Easy Mitigating Factors."

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Mar 10, 2009 2:44:10 PM

Even with a "cooperation" plea agreement any 5K1.1 reduction is likely to be limited to a 25% reduction or so. Any cooperation against codefendants will be limited to those less culpable than he. The government would likely move for a limited reduction thus pressuring the Court to impose at least 25 years.

Posted by: mjs | Mar 10, 2009 3:51:13 PM

They forgot to give him 3 for acceptance.

Posted by: Texas Lawyer | Mar 10, 2009 5:34:12 PM

The Government filed a letter explaining their sentence calculations. They do give him 3 points for acceptance and timely plea and say after that, he's a level 54. They say there is no plea agreement, he will plead straight up to the 11 counts in the information. I recap their filing here. Madoff's lawyers also filed a letter but they don't address sentencing guideline calculations in it -- they do say the $177 billion in forfeiture is an exaggerated amount and that the Government has improperly calculated the amount.

Does anyone think he will get bond pending sentencing?

Posted by: TalkLeft | Mar 10, 2009 7:18:41 PM

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