July 1, 2009

Madoff appeal has little to gain

Appealing convicted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff's 150-year prison sentence would be an exercise in futility, a legal expert said.

Given Madoff's age, 71, even a reduction to 50 years would amount to a lifetime sentence, a case of Madoff winning the battle, but losing the war, Mark Allenbaugh, a former attorney for the U.S. Sentencing Commission told USA Today.

Allenbaugh said it could be argued the sentence was unreasonable on its face, but he said the chances of winning an appeal were slim.

Madoff was convicted of running an investment scam that, so far, has turned up more than $13 billion in losses. Estimates for the total loss have gone as high as $65 billion.

Before the sentencing, Madoff attorney Ira Sorkin asked for a sentence of 12 years. In a television interview, he called the 150-year term absurd.

At the sentencing, U.S. District Judge Denny Chin called the crime an extraordinary evil, and noted the staggering human toll. Thousands of investors lost money in the scam that lasted more than 20 years.