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Bernard Madoff’s life sentence
Madoff’s 150-year jail term won’t get his investors back their savings, but how much do they deserve?
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ernard Madoff wants you to know that he’s genuinely sorry, said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. Which is great, “except for one little problem”—his apology came only after he was caught for defrauding hundreds of investors of at least $13 billion, and just before Judge Denny Chin was set to sentence him. Chin, “to his credit,” wasn’t moved, and sentenced Madoff to the maximum 150 years in jail for his “spectacularly evil” crimes.

“Madoff will die in jail. And he deserves it,” said Larry Kudlow in National Review Online. But he can’t have acted alone, so who are his accomplices? And “where’s the money?” Federal trustee Irving Picard has only recovered $1.2 billion, if that, and Madoff isn’t “singing in jail.” Justice won’t be done until investors get more of their money back.

The feds have one last piece of leverage to get Madoff to talk, said Gary Weiss in Seeking Alpha. Instead of sending him to rot in a medium security prison, as expected, send him to a harsh supermax prison, with “terrorists, top-ranking Mafiosi, and convicted spies.” If he squeals “like a rat in heat,” we’ll get his accomplices, and investors will recover more money. If he really did act alone, he’s already in “just the right place.”

Madoff’s victims have some truly “heart-wrenching” stories of loss, said Joe Nocera in The New York Times, but they “bear at least some responsibility for their own gullibility.” Some are suing the SEC—thus, taxpayers—to recover their entire investment, but robbery victims don’t get federal bailouts. And the SEC didn’t make them smugly tuck their life savings in a “special, secret deal.”

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