Criminal Law, Pages 35–39

United States v. Madoff

United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, 2009


Defendant defrauded thousands of investors almost $65 billion dollars, $18 billion of which were actual losses to investors.


What sentence should defendant receive?


Despite what defendant says and the victims' emotions, they do not appear to merely be seeking mob vengeance as suggested. The loss that defendant caused is literally off the chart, which only provides offense levels up to $400 million. He also breached the victims trust and consistently lied to everyone about investing their money. He sent millions of pages of account statements that confirmed trade that were not made and attesting to balances that did not exist. Investors made important life decisions based on these fictitious statements. He also lied to the SEC under oath and withheld material information.

Defendant did pay investors who asked to withdraw their money during his scheme, but he also took over $250 million for his salary across the ten years, spent over a million more on personal expenses, and paid billions to individual who generated investments for him through feeder funds. While he turned himself in, he was unable to keep up with the customer demands to withdraw their money through the recession, which would have led to his discovery soon anyway. He surrendered $170 billion, but he was already arrested and could do little to stop it anyway. No other case compares to this level of fraud and betrayal, and not a single letter has been presented attesting to defendant's good character or charitable acts.

Defendant has a life expectancy of 13 years, so any sentence over 20 years would only be symbolic, but symbolism is important here for three reasons: retribution for his extraordinary evil, deterrence to dissuade those that would engage in similar crimes, and for the victims to have their trust in our justice system sustained.


Sentenced to a term of 150 years.