Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Message Sent

Bernie Madoff received the maximum sentence (150 years) for 11 federal crimes including securities fraud, wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, perjury, and making false filings with the SEC. It seems he was a rich man who made himself richer and certainly deserved serious punishment. I have listened to the media report this morning that the judge sent a strong message by giving Madoff the maximum sentence.

Still, I couldn’t help but think that I have heard of murderers who got less time than that. So what was the message? If you kill someone, you are bad, but if you take their money (when you already have money) you are "extraordinarily evil," "unprecedented" and "staggering" as Judge Chin said of Madoff’ and his crime.

It reminded me of some things that occurred while we lived in NM. In 1988 a musician in a local band was drunk and high when he ran over and killed a jogger in the early morning hours in Taos. I don’t remember his exact sentencing, but it was light. I do know that the musician spent weekdays in jail and then was free to work on weekends – playing his guitar in local bars. I also know that the musician was married, but did not have kids or any real dependents. I knew the musician and his wife who were nice people. I knew there was no intent to kill, yet because of him, a family lost their husband and father and provider.

Now I also knew another family in the area who rented a small cabin near our home in Questa. This cabin had been a tourist cabin in RR, but was old and run-down. It had been sold, moved, and replaced by modern cabins. The old cabin was basically a living area and kitchen with one bedroom and bathroom. The family that lived in it had eight kids. The father was in jail in Taos for fraud. He had been a preacher of sorts, but had fallen in with someone who had a money-investing-scheme-gone-bad. The father was not rich, had not gotten rich, and was not the ringleader of the investing company. But he was in jail, and the judge was not lenient at all even knowing the hardship placed on the man’s family. So what was the message sent here? What is more important in America – money or life?

9 comments:

Skybag said...

Is New Mexico a part of America? I'm not sure it's legal systems should be used as an example ;)

Bag Blog said...

Jes, you are probably right.

Buck said...

Having seen some of the horror stories of folks who were wiped out by Madoff... widows, retirees, and the like who lost their life savings... I have NO sympathy for the man and believe he got his just desserts.

There's more than one way to kill someone in this country, and taking away what amounts to their livelihood (i.e., their savings) is as good as any, and perhaps worse than most. Coz if you're dead, you're gone. If you're 70 years old and suddenly find yourself reduced to living on the pittance that is Social Security (for most people)... you're in for a miserable existence for the remainder of your life. Madoff did just that to thousands of people.

As for your question... "What is more important in America – money or life?"... I'm thinking you know the answer, uncomfortable as it may be.

My $0.02.

Bag Blog said...

Buck,
I don't doubt that Madoff deserved his sentence, I don't feel sorry for him at all.

Do you find it interesting that he is taking the wrap by himself? Surely there were others who were in on the scam.

Mrs. Bear said...

Well...having been living there when the sentence was give of the musician that ran over the jogger I remember not agreeing with the small price that the musician paid. I guess the sad part was that a man's life had been ended and the musician did not change his life much at all and I don't think that he stopped drinking...there was not a life change..I never understood how that came to happen and certainly did not agree...I agree with Jessie I do NOT consider NM's legal system to be something that I wanted to be a part of...think about it...we ALL moved. Honestly most of us moved.... As some of us have had to witness...life is very precious much more precious than money.

Buck said...

Do you find it interesting that he is taking the wrap by himself?

From what little I know of the subject, I think my answer would be: he acted alone and as such is the only one deserving prosecution. The rest of the cast were just minions following orders; the over-arching strategy (if there was such a thing) was Madoff's and Madoff's alone. His wife MIGHT be deserving of being prosecuted as an accomplice, but I think stripping her of ill-begotten assets is punishment enough. YMMV.

Becky said...

What else do you expect from a country that believes it is wrong to kill a convicted murderer, but OK to kill an innocent baby--even one who has already been born.

Bag Blog said...

Becky, good point.

GUYK said...

Glad to see him get locked up but also figure that congress is pulling the biggest ponzi scam ever and getting by with it