A courtroom sketch of Bernard Madoff, left, seen with prosecutor Lisa Baroni and judge Denny Chin in court.
(AP Photo/Christine Cornell)
NEW YORK (CBS/AP) The mastermind of one of the biggest financial frauds in history has been sentenced to spend the rest of his days behind bars, but he may get some company: federal authorities are now pressing a probe of 10 associates of Bernard Madoff.
A person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, wouldn't detail potential charges or say whether the 10 would include Madoff's family or former employees.
So far, only Madoff and an accountant accused of failing to make basic auditing checks have been criminally charged in the multibillion-dollar hoax.
In court Monday, the 71-year-old Madoff admitted it was impossible for him to excuse deeds that U.S. District Judge Denny Chin noted had cost investors $13.2 billion by conservative estimates, and $50 billion by the estimate Madoff gave his sons in December.
"I don't ask any forgiveness," Madoff told Chin. "Although I may not have intended harm, I did a great deal of harm."
Later, he turned around to look at the victims lining the first row of the gallery.
"I will turn and face you," he said mechanically. "I'm sorry. I know that doesn't help you."
The judge then took his turn.
"This is not just a matter of money," Chin said. "The breach of trust was massive. Investors — individuals, charities, pension funds, institutional clients — were repeatedly lied to, as they were told their monies would be invested in stocks when they were not."
Madoff received the maximum sentence of 150 years in prison for the massive pyramid scheme run at least since the early 1990s that demolished the life savings of thousands of people, wrecked charities and shook confidence in the U.S. financial system.
Chin dismissed Madoff's pleas for leniency, noting that Madoff made substantial loans to family members, including moving $15 million of his company's money into his wife's personal accounts as it became clear that the scheme was unraveling.
"I simply do not get the sense that Mr. Madoff has done all that he could or told all that he knows," Chin said.
The judge noted the pain of more than 100 investors — several of whom whooped and cheered in court when he was sentenced — who had urged Madoff be sent to prison for life.
Madoff, looking thinner than his last court appearance in March, gave no noticeable reaction when the sentence was announced.
When nine victims described their pain earlier, Madoff kept his eyes focused ahead, his head slightly bowed. Some openly wept or raised their voices, labeling Madoff a "monster," "a true beast," a "psychopath" and an "evil low-life."
When asked by the judge whether he had anything to say, Madoff slowly stood, leaned forward on the defense table and spoke in a monotone for about 10 minutes. At various times, he referred to his monumental fraud as a "problem," "an error of judgment" and "a tragic mistake."
Madoff, who has been jailed since March, already has taken a severe financial hit: last week, a judge issued a preliminary $171 billion forfeiture order, stripping Madoff of all his personal property, including real estate, investments and $80 million in assets his wife Ruth had claimed were hers. The order left Ruth Madoff with $2.5 million that couldn't be tied to the fraud.
Madoff's lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, said in an interview with NBC television Tuesday that 150-year sentence levied was unfair.
"The justice system is not built on vengeance and it's not built on symbolism,' Sorkin said. "One-hundred and fifty years is absurd under the guidelines, under the sentencing statutes."
However, Sorkin said he respected the decision.
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June 29, 2009 - Ruth Madoff Issues Statement
June 29, 2009 - Breaking: Bernard Madoff Gets 150 Years
June 29, 2009 - Day Of Reckoning For A Financial Serial Killer