THE BLOG

The Madoff Twelve

07/24/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Ira Sorkin, defense attorney for Bernard Madoff, requested his client's sentence be limited to twelve years. He cited Madoff's age and thirteen-year life expectancy. He noted the crime was non-violent. And he added that Madoff surrendered voluntarily.

Sorkin asked the judge to avoid "mob vengeance." In an online report, CNN Money described his legal position by writing, Madoff says 12 years is plenty. We at Acrimoney can't help but wonder:

Do twelve years constitute justice for Bernard Madoff?

So we ran the numbers. There's no "mob vengeance" in math. Numbers have no feelings. There are no emotions that override the fairness of reason. Acrimoney's calculations should clarify, therefore, whether Sorkin's proposal is just.

Twelve years of prison equal one year for every $5.4 billion of Madoff's $65 billion fraud.

By comparison, Samuel Israel received twenty years for a $400 million fraud. That's one year for every $20 million of deceit. Using the Israel standard, Madoff should receive 3,250 years.

Twelve years of prison equal one year for every 111 of the 1,341 investors in Madoff's firm.

In each group of 111 people, how many individual victims can reassemble their lives in one year? How many have been forced to sell their homes? How many of the older investors, the ones who probably won't receive SIPC payments, have lost everything and now depend on their children for support? How many will spend far more than the next twelve months trying to recoup losses? How many will suffer mental anguish for the rest of their lives?

Twelve years equal sixteen months of prison time for every year the SEC overlooked Harry Markopolis' warnings.

Markopolis first alerted the SEC in 1999 about Madoff. The fraudster confessed nine years later in 2008. What is the message that twelve years of prison send to would-be criminals? When our financial watchdogs fail, you'll serve sixteen months for every year you dupe the authorities. Is this message a deterrent?

Twelve years, and there have been two suicides.

Who says the crime was non-violent? Financial fraud is a personal violation. Sure, the crime plays out through the mind and the wallet rather than the body. But two people took their own lives in the wake of Madoff's deceit. The crime sounds plenty violent to us.

The Acrimoney Verdict: A twelve-year sentence is a gross miscarriage of justice.

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