Citing Cooperation, Madoff's Attorneys Seek 12-Year Sentence

Bloomberg News
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Attorneys for Bernard L. Madoff, who confessed to running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, have asked a federal judge to show him leniency at sentencing, citing cooperation with federal officials.

Madoff, 71, faces up to 150 years in prison when he is sentenced June 29. He pleaded guilty in March to a massive fraud, in which he paid off old investors with money from new clients. In the weeks before the fraud came to light, his clients were told they had as much as $65 billion.

"We seek neither mercy nor sympathy," defense attorney Ira Sorkin wrote in a letter filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court. "Respectfully, we seek the justice and objectivity that have been -- and we hope always will be -- the bedrock of our criminal justice system."

Sorkin said a 12-year sentence would be appropriate because Madoff is expected to live another 13 years. As an alternative, he said, a term of 15 to 20 years would achieve the goals of sentencing.

Other white-collar offenders facing life in prison received an average sentence of about 15 years, Sorkin said, citing a study conducted by Herbert Hoelter, a sentencing consultant hired by Madoff.

Prosecutors have identified 1,341 Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities account holders who collectively lost more than $13 billion.

Federal guidelines call for a life sentence, Sorkin said.

Madoff recognizes he is "responsible for the offense," he added.

Sorkin said Madoff has sought to help investigators recover assets. He has supplied information, reviewed records, transferred assets and agreed to speak to other regulators, he said.

Madoff had met with the SEC's inspector general about "the role of the SEC in connection with its examination" of his business, Sorkin said. SEC spokesman Kevin Callahan had no comment.

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