Despite his lawyer's plea that his client should receive a sentence of 12 years for the Ponzi scheme that he had long operated and which had robbed its victims of $65 billion, Madoff was sentenced today to the maximum possible prison term of 150 years.
Presiding over the US District Court in New York, Judge Denny Chin had only a few moments earlier heard Madoff offer an unqualified apology to those of his victims who were in court to hear sentence passed before it was his duty to confirm the punishment that the self-confessed fraudster was to receive.
And in announcing the sentence that will see Madoff spend the rest of his days behind bars, the Judge had this to say:Here the message must be sent that Mr Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll
The sentence was greeted with applause by the victims, many of whom were in tears and embracing each other for comfort. Judge Chin had spoken on a previous occasion of the numerous letters he had received from the victims of Madoff's massive fraud, begging him not to show any leniency to the man who had ruined many of their lives.
As CNN report there were a total of eleven charges, among them fraud, money laundering, perjury and false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission to which Madoff had pleaded guilty.
Only on Friday Madoff and his wife had seen their property seized by court order and after maintaining a silence during much of the time since her husband's arrest, Mrs Madoff issued a statement today after the sentence was announced in which she spoke of the man:who stunned us all with his confession and is responsible for this terrible situation in which so many now find themselves. I am embarrassed and ashamed. Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.
Nobody can know if the man who has admitted to having started the Ponzi scheme, that for a while at least brought him rich rewards, in 1991 is truly remorseful. Perhaps in his mind his only crime was that he got caught. Turned in by his sons in December 2008 as it happens, after his crimes became apparent to them. But it is worth reproducing the apology that he issued in court:I live in a tormented state for all the pain and suffering I created. I left a legacy of shame. It is something I will live with for the rest of my life. Saying I'm sorry is not enough. I turn to face you. I know it will not help. I'm sorry. How can you excuse betraying thousands of investors?" he asked. "How can you excuse deceiving hundreds of employees? How can you excuse lying to and deceiving your wife who still stands by you?