Madoff Brother A 'Victim,' Lawyer Says As Sentencing Looms

Dec 19 2012 | 10:27am ET

Six months after admitting he aided his brother's massive Ponzi scheme, Peter Madoff is calling himself a victim of the $65 billion scam in a bid for consideration at sentencing.

Under a plea deal with prosecutors, the 67-year-old Madoff will receive 10 years in prison and will forfeit up to $143.1 billion. Madoff, who served as his brother's chief compliance officer, admitted to falsifying documents and evading taxes, but insisted that he had no knowledge of his brother's fraud until two days before Bernard Madoff was arrested four years ago.

Madoff is to be sentenced on Thursday.

In a letter to the sentencing judge earlier this month, Madoff's lawyer, John Wing, wrote that his client's older brother constantly degraded him, and that, "although a clear beneficiary of his older brother's largesse, he was also a victim of his brother's Ponzi scheme."

"Peter had a large build, and Bernie ridiculed him mercilessly, calling him 'Rollo,' which hurt Peter deeply. One friend recalled that even as an adult, Peter's friends were struck by his view of himself as 'a fat boy who always wanted to do the right thing, a little fat boy who wanted so much to please his father, and his older brother."

Wing asked that Madoff be permitted to attend his granddaughter's Bat Mitzvah in January—the lawyer wrote that Bernard Madoff liked to insult his younger brother's adherence to his Jewish faith—and that he be permitted to serve his sentence at a federal prison camp 70 miles northwest of New York City.

Calling Peter Madoff a "decent and compassionate man," Wing wrote that he would "live out his days as a jobless pariah."

"The only question is whether Peter will die in prison or share a few more years living with his cherished family," Wing continued.

Madoff's filing included dozens of letters from family and friends, pleading for leniency.

In there own, less forgiving letter to the judge, prosecutors noted that if Peter Madoff had done his job, "it is possible that the fraud would have been detected years earlier and losses to many victims would have been avoided." In addition, while not disputing Madoff's claim that he was unaware of his brother's fraud, Madoff did help his brother distribute some $300 million to family and friends after Bernard Madoff confessed to him.

"Despite the abuse, Peter seemed to be blind to his brother's fraud," Wing wrote. "He loved, trusted, admired and even idolized his brother, believing him to be a trading genius."


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