Madoff victims lobby judge before conman is sentenced

Fraudster should 'pay for the suffering he has caused'

Victims of Bernard Madoff's record-breaking fraud have flooded a judge with demands for the US financier to be handed the longest possible jail term for his crimes when he is sentenced later this month.

In 113 emails and letters to the court, investors who lost everything point out that most of Madoff's victims were neither rich nor sophisticated but were duped by a man whose Wall Street credentials led them to trust his once-fêted investment prowess.

His arrest on 11 December last year, a day after he told investigators that he had confessed to his sons, changed the lives of thousands of people who believed they had built decent nest eggs for retirement. Few will see even the amount of money they put in over many years, let alone the sums they believed they had accumulated.

Ginny Buczek, a car mechanic's wife, wrote that Madoff had dashed their efforts to save for a retirement where her husband would not have to worry about affording medical bills. She said: "To know that this good, caring, hardworking man has had his retirement stolen by people who lived a lifestyle of such utter luxury is appalling."

Numerous other correspondents have set out tales of financial hardship, desperation and destitution – either their own or those of their elderly parents who trusted their life savings to Madoff Investment Securities, or one of the "feeder funds" that funnelled money to him.

Many have been forced to sell their homes and several have moved in with their children. Even more well-to-do clients, who had hoped to contribute some of their savings to philanthropic ventures, are now having to rely on the charity of others. The letters and emails range from heartfelt cries of sorrow and loss to barely strangulated cries of fury. Victims repeatedly label Madoff as a "devil", a "monster", a "thug", or even a "financial terrorist". In earlier letters also being considered by Judge Denny Chin, one New Jersey man described the effects of the Madoff fraud as "a domestic holocaust".

Madoff, 71, was once one of the most respected men on Wall Street. Thousands of victims around the world invested with him on the recommendation of friends and professional advisers, tempted by his long record of consistent returns. But he was not really investing their money, only using it to pay other clients when they withdrew their funds. The total of $65bn (£40bn) that clients were told they had in their accounts did not exist; they will have to share the barely $1bn that is left.

In March, he pleaded guilty to 11 counts of fraud, money laundering and perjury. He faces a maximum jail term of 150 years when he is sentenced on 29 June, but many correspondents to Judge Chin urged more "creative" punishments. David Spanier, of New York, said: "One could start with the idea that Mr Madoff's jail cell consist entirely of mirrors, so that he would have to face himself each day". Another suggested: "Bernie deserves a longevity pill – not death – so he can watch each generation suffer and watch what he did."

Not all victims struck an angry tone, however. Shirley Stone, 87, wrote a one-paragraph email telling the judge that Madoff had done harm that would resonate for years. "If I could, I would charge him with heartbreak, sadness and tears," she said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Swiss Banking and Finance

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - 6 month FTC - Central London

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...

Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application) - Agile

£215 per day: Ashdown Group: Junior Project Manager (website, web application ...

Guru Careers: Software Engineer / Software Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software Engineer / Softw...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power