The man who prosecutors say ran a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, the biggest financial scam in U.S. history, should spend 12 years behind bars according to his defense attorney. Bernard Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, has asked U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to consider a 12 year prison sentence for his client saying his client has cooperated with the investigation.
"A prison term of 12 years – just short of an effective life sentence- will sufficiently address the goals of deterrence, protecting the public, and promoting respect for the law without being 'greater than necessary' to achieve them," Sorkin wrote in a letter submitted to the court on Monday.
Sorkin asked the judge to consider the fact that Madoff confessed the scheme to his sons and "effectively turned himself in" rather than continuing to run the Ponzi scheme or flee the country. Though his sons have not been charged with any wrongdoing, the investigation into Madoff's possible accomplices continues. The sons, as well as Madoff's wife Ruth, all benefitted from investor money that funded at least part of their lavish lifestyles, including shopping sprees and trips, court documents have shown.
"(We) recognize that terrible losses have been suffered as a result of Mr. Madoff's conduct," according to Sorkin's letter. He said he told Madoff about the "heart-wrenching" statements submitted by the victims. Many of those victims have called for a life sentence for Madoff.
"Dreams are gone, a sense of security is gone and the void is filled with fears, questions, uncertainty and sadness," Sue Marshall, a victim, wrote in a letter submitted to Judge Chin.
"All the money that my husband and I saved for our retirement has been lost due to the fraud Bernard Madoff perpetrated on us," wrote Lorene Marks in another letter submitted to the court. "No mercy should be shown him as he did not care what he did to so many other people who put their trust and relied on him."
Another Madoff victim, Richard B. Shapiro of California, said he hopes Madoff will be incarcerated for life "so that he's not living in the lap of luxury." In a letter he sent to the judge, Shapiro pleads for tough sentencing, comparing Madoff to an economic rapist whose victims "are emotionally forever damaged, and forever economically devastated."
Many of Madoff's victims were infuriated when following his arrest, Madoff spent several weeks under house arrest at his luxurious Manhattan penthouse, rather than behind bars.
Madoff, 71, will speak to the "shame he has felt and the pain he has caused," at his sentencing hearing set for Monday, June 29.
Sorkin suggested a 15 to 20 year prison sentence as an alternative, stating it would be effective "without disproportionately punishing Mr. Madoff."
"We seek neither mercy nor sympathy," Sorkin wrote.