Madoff Lawyer Asks For 12-Year Sentence

Jun 23 2009 | 12:31pm ET

Convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff’s lawyers are seeking leniency for their client, who faces up to 150 years in prison when he is sentenced next week.

In a letter to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin, Ira Sorkin asked the judge to impose a sentence “substantially below” the century and a half allowed under the law, The New York Times reports, specifically no more than 20 years. Citing the victim impact statements made public last week, Sorkin warned of “a desire for a type of mob vengeances that, if countenanced her, would negate and render meaningless the role of the court.”

Sorkin wrote that Madoff plans to “speak to the shame he has felt and the pain he has caused” at next week’s hearing, and pointed to several mitigating factors: that Madoff essentially turned himself in, and that he has cooperated with authorities investigating his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, as well as those seeking to recoup money for his victims. Sorkin also notes that Madoff has fully accepted responsibility for his crimes and had recently met with the Securities and Exchange Commission’s inspector general “to provide information and insight into Mr. Madoff’s conduct and the role of the SEC in connection with its examination of Mr. Madoff’s business,” which failed to catch his fraud.

“The information exchanged during the meeting will no doubt shape and fortify the future of Wall Street regulation and oversight,” Sorkin added hopefully.

Sorkin implored Chin to impose something less than an effective life sentence on his client. He wrote that a 12-year sentence—one year short of the 71-year-old Madoff’s current life expectancy—would suffice, and wrote that anything exceeding 15 or 20 years would disproportionately punish Madoff.

Madoff is to be sentenced on June 29.

Last week, prosecutors released the 113 victim-impact statements sent to Chin. Most called on the judge to impose as harsh a sentence as possible.

“Sentence this monster named Madoff to the most severe punishment within your abilities,” one investor, Randy Baird, wrote.

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