Musing on Madoff

Musing on Madoff

When Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty last week to bilking billions of dollars from investors, Burt Ross, one of those investors, said “the Justice Department hit the ball out of the park” with its swift action arresting and trying Madoff. The swindler is now sitting in prison waiting for a June sentencing. He faces up to 150 years in prison but considering that he’s 70, he basically got a life sentence (not that many people live beyond 150 years these days).

Why is Madoff in prison now while he sat in his luxurious penthouse under house arrest before his trial? Authorities have called him a flight risk, but where could he go? Likely, a non-extradiction country in South America. Some fraudsters have fled to Israel in the past, but the Jewish state hardly seems like a safe choice for the man who managed to piss off Elie Wiesel, eliciting the Nobel Peace Prize winner to say that whatever can be done to Madoff should be done.

But why wasn’t he a flight risk when waiting for his trial? He had admitted his guilt upon his arrest, he knew what the outcome would be. And during the trial he issued a seemingly heartfelt apology:

“I am painfully aware that I have deeply hurt many, many people, including the members of my family, my closest friends, business associates, and the thousands of clients who gave me their money. I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done.”

What do you think, readers? Does Madoff feel genuine remorse over his actions and the lives and charities he’s ruined? Or was this a calculated move to try to earn some sympathy from the court by presenting himself as penitential?

On the lighter side, late night talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel has enlisted some friends from Sesame Street to help explain the basics of a Ponzi scheme.

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