Madoff's Lawyer Issues Final Plea
Ira Lee Sorkin conceded his client is a “a deeply flawed individual,” while arguing the swindler is a “human being” who should not get “an eye for an eye.”
Your Honor, I know I speak on behalf of all Mr. Madoff's counsel as well as Mr. Madoff who will speak. We cannot be unmoved by what we heard. There is no way that we cannot be insensitive to the victims' suffering.
This is a tragedy as some of the victims have said at every level. There is no doubt Mr. Madoff will speak. We represent a deeply flawed individual, but we represent, your Honor, a human being. We don't represent a statistic. We don't represent a number. We speak to the victims. We have heard what they've had to say and we can only imagine, your Honor, what we would have heard from others. I say again, forgive me for being redundant, we represent a very flawed individual, an individual who appears before this court facing a sentence that is sufficient but not unreasonably necessary to carry out the mandate that this court has to carry out.
“Mr. Madoff is 71 years old, your Honor. Based upon his health, which is in the PSR, his family history, his life expectancy, that is why we ask for a sentence of 12 years, just short, based upon the statistics that we have, of a life sentence.”
The magnificence of our legal system, your Honor, is that we do not seek an eye for an eye. To be sure, if it is any consolation to the victims, we have worked hopefully diligently with the U.S. Attorney's Office in an atmosphere of trying to recover assets. To that extent, your Honor, we have provided the government with what we believe to be the assets that Mr. Madoff has gathered over the years which the victims have referred to, and again if it is any consolation to them, to the extent that the government has left him and his family, his wife impoverished, we are just about there with respect to everything the government believes it can show in order to obtain the appropriate assets for forfeiture. Vengeance is not the goal of punishment. Our system of justice, your Honor, has recognized that justice is and must always be blind and fair—not blind to the criminal acts that Mr. Madoff pleaded guilty to and certainly not blind to the suffering of the victims, but blind to the extent that it will achieve a sentence that has been set out over the years in the guidelines and the cases interpreting the guidelines, and the guidelines and the courts and the statutes, your Honor, do not speak of vengeance and revenge.
To be sure, it was a fraud. To be sure, it was a Ponzi scheme. To be sure, it was a crime, but nevertheless, your Honor, I point out, and in response respectfully to some of the victims, the PSR [presentence report] noted, and I think it is common knowledge in the industry that Mr. Madoff built up this firm on the proprietary trading side to the point in 1991, as the presentence report points out, the proprietary trading side which at the point of his arrest had approximately 200 employees separate and apart from the fraudulent advisory business, a hundred traders making markets and in 1991, your Honor, accounted for almost 10 percent of all transactions on the New York Stock Exchange.
The loans, the commingling, commenced within the last eight to 10 years. And as Mr. Madoff will say, things began to collapse. And there was commingling with $250 million over the last eight or so years, of advisory money, as well as money in, money out of investments. I think it's important to note, your Honor, again that Mr. Madoff stepped forward. He chose not to flee. He chose not to hide money. To the extent money is overseas, we are still actively engaged—we, his defense counsel—in assisting the government, at the request of the government, to obtain assets located overseas, as we speak, and we submitted that voluntarily, and we have been trying to help, with Mr. Madoff's authorization, permission, and blessing.
Mr. Madoff is 71 years old, your Honor. Based upon his health, which is in the PSR, his family history, his life expectancy, that is why we ask for a sentence of 12 years, just short, based upon the statistics that we have, of a life sentence. We also said, if your Honor is inclined, your Honor obviously makes the decision, 15 to 20 years. So that if Mr. Madoff ever sees the light of day, in his 90s, impoverished alone, he will have paid a terrible price. He expects, your Honor, to live out his years in prison.
In closing, your Honor, there is no question that this case has taken an enormous toll, not only on Mr. Madoff and his family, but to the victims to be sure. But it has also taken a toll, your Honor, as Mr. Madoff will say, on the industry that he helped revolutionize, that he helped grow, and now has become the object of disrespect and abomination, and that is a tragedy as well. We ask only, your Honor, that Mr. Madoff be given fairness, within the parameters of our legal system, and that the sentence that he be given be sufficient, but not greater than necessary, to carry out what this court must carry out under the rules, statutes and guidelines.