Thursday, July 02, 2009

After Receiving 150 Year Sentence, Madoff Debates an Appeal

Bernie Madoff, the scam king of the decade, was sentenced to 150 years in prison and according to his attorney, Ira Sorkin, he is uncertain about whether or not he will appeal this sentence. Bernie Madoff’s lead attorney spoke to Fox Business Network and said that “we haven’t made the decision yet” to appeal and that Ruth Madoff’s settlement “took a long time to work out.”

In a coup for the Fox Business Network, Sorkin tackled some tough questions:

  • On appealing Madoff's 150 year settlement: “We haven’t made that decision yet.”

  • On the significant wait for Ruth Madoff to make a deal regarding the surrender of a majority of the assets: “We came to a settlement with the government that took a long time to work out. It was a compromise.”

  • On the amount of money recovered following the $50 billion Ponzi scheme:“More than $1 to 2 billion has been recovered.”
The question many are asking, is why wouldn't he appeal, what is essentially is, a life sentence? It could be that Madoff's attempt to get a more lenient sentence of 12 years based on the average lifespan for a man his age, fell on deaf ears. It could be that that Madoff's wife was vulnerable to possible jail time herself and feels it may be time to simply catch their breath. There are also his sons, Mark and Andrew, who worked for their father's firm and have been pleading innocent since the story broke. Maybe, quietly going away for 150 years, will make it possible for this chapter to close for them.

Unfortunately for Madoff and his attorney, they do not have 150 years to make a decision. In fact, they have only ten days from the day he received his sentence and soon his time will be measured in hours.

For the time being, Sorkin is making the case that he and his client are involved in the recovery process. For example, in the Fox Business interview, Sorkin acknowledged that there are assets in other parts of the world, citing France specifically, stating “There are assets overseas, and as we said in court yesterday, we are assisting the government -- my firm and one of my partners -- in recovering assets that are located overseas, which the U.S. attorneys office cannot recover on their own."

I would guess that Madoff is going to pursue an appeal in order to keep the door for a lighter sentence open. After all, I assume he can always change his mind on the appeal if his attorney asks for it, but he cannot force the government to give him more time to choose to pursue such.

Hearing the sentiments of those who are his victims makes me think that prison may be the safest place he could possibly be. So many have been terribly and profoundly impacted by this scam master. I don't know if that reality will be as inspiring as the hope of living beyond his sentence.

Kevin Price is Host of the Price of Business, the longest running show on AM 650 (M-F at 11 am) in Houston, Texas and on AOL Radio. His articles often appear in Chicago Sun Times, Reuters, USA Today, and other national media. Steve Moore of the Wall Street Journal calls Price the “best business talk show host in the country.” Find out why and visit his blog at www.BizPlusBlog.com and his show site at www.PriceofBusiness.com. You can also find Price on Strategy Room at FoxNews.com.

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