Bernard Madoff will plead guilty this week to 11 counts, including money laundering, perjury and securities, mail and wire fraud. He would face 150 years. Prosecutors insist that there is no deal. Indeed, this may be a plea given in the absence of any cognizable defense.
At 70, Madoff is likely to get an effective life sentence regardless of the actual years imposed.
His $50 billion dollar pyramid or Ponzi scheme is now believed to have injured three million people and institutions. The initial proceedings raised an interesting question of a conflict of interest. His lawyer, Ira Sorkin and his family invested more than $900,000 with Madoff. That makes him a potential witness. Indeed, if he did not lose money, his treatment by Madoff and his family could be evidence of disparate treatment given favored parties.
There are two questions outstanding. First, there is the question of whether Judge Denny Chin will order him straight into custody. Normally, when you plead, the court will allow you a few weeks before sentencing to get your matters in order. In this case, the court may find Madoff unworthy of such a gesture. There is also the risk that he might flee or take his life.
Second, there is the Madoff kids. That was the primary concern given the clear guilt and tremendous damage done by Madoff. There is a general view that Madoff lied when he said that his sons did not know and that they turned him in after allegedly confessing to the illegal conduct. The illegality was so extensive, it is hard to believe that his family was in the dark. The question is now whether Madoff’s son and other family members will be charged.
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