On June 29 New York District Judge Denny Chin will pass sentence on self-confessed fraudster Bernard Madoff, a man whose $50 billion (£35 billion) investment scheme robbed many of it's clients of most, and in some instances all, of their life's savings.
It was in December 2008 that Bernard Madoff was arrested by U.S. federal authorities, following a tip from his sons, on suspicion of having operated what amounted to a giant Ponzi scheme. This type of scheme, named for Charles Ponzi, an Italian man who operated a series of frauds in the USA in the 1920s and 1930s, involves paying returns to it's earlier investors from the money a fund receives from subsequent investors rather than from profits accrued through any market investment strategy. A scheme destined to, sooner or later, collapse.
On March 11, 2009 Madoff pleaded guilty to a total of 11 charges covering acts of fraud, perjury and money laundering. The seventy one year old former NASDAQ chairman faces a possible sentence of 150 years and seems certain to spend the rest of his days in prison.
Whilst some people might view a sentence of 150 years an unduly harsh one for a crime in which nobody was directly killed or maimed, the fact that two men, who lost their own or other people's money as a result of entrusting it to Madoff, have already taken their own lives may cause them to think again. And if the sentiments expressed in the letters and e-mails that Judge Chin has received from other victims of Madoff are typical of the wider public mood there will be little sympathy for the man who even defrauded a Foundation for Humanity set up by Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, were he to receive the maximum possible sentence.
According to the BBC, among the 113 pieces of communication sent to Judge Chin, is one from Steve Norton, a man who had $1.1 million of his retirement fund lost by Madoff. He urged the Judge:
Please don't let his brilliant criminal mind loose to do it again. He took the rest of our lives. Don't give him his back.
In a similar vein, New York woman Judith Welling, told the Judge that Madoff should serve his sentence:
in a prison commensurate with his crimes, ie with other convicted murderers, for that is the ultimate result of his crimes.
Ira Lee Sorkin, the attorney representing Madoff, has said that he will not comment on the contents of the letters and e-mails until he and his client are in court to hear sentence passed.
Likewise Mr Sorkin would not comment on a separate story run by CNN that his client met this week with David Kotz, Inspector-General of the Securities and Exchange Commission. The meeting, which apparently took place at the New York correctional center where Madoff is being held prior to sentencing, is said to have been in connection with the report that Mr Kotz is compiling in which he hopes to establish what, if anything, federal securities regulators knew of Madoff's scheme before it's eventual collapse.