criminal law

Bernard Madoff Got Lucky

The 150 year sentence that Judge Denny Chin imposed in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme case seems a bit light. Considering that investor losses may range from $10 to $20 billion, Madoff was sentenced to 1 year of prison for every $66.7 million in losses at the low end of the estimates. Of course, no one, let alone a 71 year old man, can possibly serve the entirety of a 150 year sentence, so Madoff is getting a great deal in this instance.

In contrast, consider the terrible plight of Jeffrey Rush, who faked paralysis and proceeded to collect veterans and disability benefits. He was recently sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison and ordered to pay about $300,000 in restitution. He ended up with 4.3% of Madoff’s prison sentence, but only caused 0.0015-0.003% of Madoff’s losses. If $66.7 million in losses is worth one year in prison, $300,000 in losses should only yield about a day and a half in prison.

As I said, Bernard Madoff got lucky. Really lucky.