Saturday, March 14, 2009

Madoff's Guilty Plea

"Here was a man with all the duties of seeking large money. He concocted a scheme which, on his counsel's admission, did defraud men and women. It will not do to have the world understand that such a scheme as that can be carried out ... without receiving substantial punishment."
This statement could have been made at the hearing for Bernard Madoff this week. It wasn't. This quotation is attributable to Judge Clarence Hale, who made the statement before sentencing Charles Ponzi back in 1920. Ponzi never seemed to "get it" passing a note to reporters as he was led to prison stating: "Sic transit gloria mundi," or "Thus passes worldly glory." In an interview shortly before his death Ponzi apparently still had little remorse for his deeds, commenting:
"Even if they never got anything for it, it was cheap at that price.
Without malice aforethought I had given them the best show that was ever staged in their territory since the landing of the Pilgrims! It was easily worth fifteen million bucks to watch me put the thing over."
So, will Madoff get it? Madoff did say that he was "sorry" for directing the large Ponzi scheme. The sentence as it stands now is 150 years. But has he really confessed to all the wrong-doing? Even with Madoff's guilty plea, much uncertainty exists about whether Madoff really acted alone in this scheme. Moreover, the $70 million that Ruth Madoff claims as separate assets in her name is staggering. One must wonder how sorry Madoff really is if his family retains assets while the clients will recover little.

Bloomberg's coverage of the guilty plea:

And the coverage of Madoff's immediate trip to jail until his sentencing in June:


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