At disgraced financier Bernard Madoff's sentencing on Monday, Judge Denny Chin described his crimes as "extraordinarily evil." If legal experts are right in their assessment of where Madoff is likely to serve his time, he'll have the chance to meet plenty of other people whose misdeeds fit that description.
There's no "Club Fed" in Madoff's future. Sentenced to 150 years in prison, far more than most white-collar wrongdoers, it's likely he'll spend the rest of his life locked up alongside violent criminals, these experts say.
What's more, according to this fascinating Bloomberg News article on Madoff's likely fate, his crimes are so notorious that he's a likely target for an inmate looking to bolster his own prestige by attacking a high-profile person behind bars.
His many victims will likely agree that living the rest of his life in such harsh conditions is a fitting punishment for Madoff, whose shocking multibillion-dollar swindle has made him as synonymous with fraud as Charles Ponzi.
Madoff should expect to serve his time in "a relatively dank facility where he's going to be integrated and treated no differently than other prisoners," said Kirby Behre, a sentencing expert with law firm Paul Hastings, Bloomberg News reported.
His days will be highly regimented and will include hours of work for meager wages of 12 to 40 cents an hour, with just an average of 10 minutes a day to make phone calls to the outside world, according to the article.
Burt Ross, the former mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., told The New York Times and other news organizations gathered outside the courthouse after the sentencing, that he believed the man who stole $5 million from him will "go down to the depths of hell" after he dies. Ross clearly isn't the only victim who feels that way.
It's worth contrasting Madoff's likely punishment to those of other recent corporate criminals. Take Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron executive, or Bernard Ebbers, ex-CEO of Worldcom, both of whom are serving 25-year sentences in low-security federal prisons. How much worse was Madoff's crime? How much worse is his punishment?
Madoff destroyed livelihoods. He stole life savings. His investors lost at least $13 billion, according to prosecutors. But was he more "evil" than Enron? The crimes Skilling was convicted with destroyed some $60 billion in market value.The resulting reforms fundamentally changed the corporate landscape.
Was he as evil as the people he'll spend the rest of his life in prison with? With his 150-year sentence about to begin, he'll have a long time to think about it. So will we.
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