Madoff Judge Says 'Evil' Crimes Justify Extraordinary Sentence

Jun 28 2011 | 4:50pm ET

Two years after his sentencing for the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, Bernard Madoff and U.S. District Judge Denny Chin traded shots in the pages of The New York Times.

As part of a series of interviews with the Gray Lady, Chin called the arch-fraudster "extraordinarily evil." Unsurprisingly, Madoff, speaking to the newspaper over the phone from the North Carolina prison where his is serving his 150-year sentence, wasn't thrilled with that description.

"I just think that was totally unrealistic and unfair," Madoff said, adding that Chin made him "the human piñata of Wall Street."

"In my mind, Chin was anything but fair," Madoff said, adding the parting shot, "with zero understanding of the industry."

Chin said he imposed the maximum sentence on Madoff to send the "strongest possible message." The scammer's "conduct was so egregious" that Chin decided to "do everything I possibly could to punish him."

"A defendant should get his just deserts."

Chin acknowledged that imposing an effective life sentence—and thensome—on a 71-year-old man was difficult, and that he considered a sentence as low as the 20 years recommended by Madoff's lawyer.

But, "In the end, I just thought he didn't deserve it," the judge explained. "The benefits of giving him hope were far outweighed by all of the other considerations."

"Maybe the judge felt, 'Well, he's 70 years old, so even if I give him 20 years, he's going to be 90 years old," Madoff said. "But, quite frankly, there's a big difference with dying in prison, you know, and dying outside with your family."

Madoff accused Chin of falling prey to "the mob psychology of the time," joking that he was "surprised Chin didn't suggest stoning in the public square."

"Explain to me who else has received a sentence like that," Madoff said. "I mean, serial killers get a death sentence, but that's virtually what he gave me."

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