Madoff says 12 years is plenty

71-year-old Ponzi fraudster faces a maximum of 150 years in the slam. His lawyer asks judge to consider 12 years - an 'effective life sentence.'

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By Aaron Smith, CNNMoney.com staff writer

madoff_mugshot.03.jpg
Bernard Madoff, shown here in his mug shot, has been locked up in a Manhattan detention center since March 12.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- The lawyer for Bernard Madoff, the confessed Ponzi scammer who faces a maximum of 150 years in prison, requested a 12-year sentence from the judge set to mete out his sentence on Monday.

Madoff defense attorney Ira Lee Sorkin made the request in a letter to Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Sorkin focused on the age of his septuagenarian client, as well as his "non-violent nature" and his "voluntary surrender" to authorities.

"Mr. Madoff is currently 71 years old and has an approximate life expectancy of 13 years," wrote Sorkin, whose letter was released on Tuesday. "A prison term of 12 years - just short of an effective life sentence - will sufficiently address the goals of deterrence, protecting the public and promoting respect for the law."

Sorkin also wrote that "we seek neither mercy nor sympathy" and recognized that "terrible losses have been suffered as a result of Mr. Madoff's conduct."

Madoff is scheduled to be sentenced on June 29. He has been locked up in the Metropolitan Correctional Center since March 12, when he pleaded guilty to masterminding the largest Ponzi scheme of all time. He pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts, including fraud, money laundering and perjury.

Madoff perpetrated the scheme through his firm, which he founded in 1960. Thus far, federal investigators have identified 1,341 investors in Madoff's firm, with losses exceeding $13 billion.

Victims recently wrote letters to the judge detailing the extent of the damage that Madoff had inflicted upon them. Many of the victims said they were financially wiped out, and requested that Judge Chin make sure that Madoff never gets out of jail alive.

"For what Mr. Madoff has done to us and to thousands of others like us, he deserves at best to spend the rest of his life in prison just as we will spend the rest of our lives in financial ruin and emotional and physical devastation," wrote one of the victims, Leonard Forrest of Port St. Lucie, Fla.

Sorkin, in his letter to the judge, said he had "advised Mr. Madoff of [the letters'] tenor and their heart-wrenching stories of loss and deprivation. At sentencing, Mr. Madoff will speak to the shame he has felt and to the pain he has caused."

Jerry Reisman, an attorney representing 16 of Madoff's victims, said Madoff deserves the maximum sentence and should do hard time.

"He destroyed peoples' lives and didn't care," said Reisman. "He's a sociopath. He didn't care who he destroyed. He would put his arm around you, comfort you and take your money."  To top of page

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