Monday, February 23, 2009

Unequal Justice

by Pa Rock
Citizen Journalist

There is a fellow named Bernie Madoff who literally stole over 50 billion dollars from countless thousands of investors worldwide (individuals, churches, businesses, and charities) in what appears to be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. He didn't really steal it all. New money was used to pay good "dividends" to the early investors, convincing future investors that this guy really knew how to make money. The organizer of a Ponzi scheme, in this case Mr. Madoff, lives well and hides as much of the loot as he can, until he is eventually unable to pay the dividends or too many investors ask for their money back. At that point somebody usually flies off to Rio with suitcases full of cash.

Mr. Madoff lived very well off of his racket, accumulating eleven houses, including at least a couple of ocean-front properties, plus all of the assorted baubles and toys to which the ultra-rich feel entitled. Unfortunately for him, he didn't make it to Rio or some other international hideaway. He was caught and hauled before a judge who promptly palmed the Madoff passport.

But he wasn't thrown in the slammer where common criminals tend to gather. It is to our national shame and disgrace that this thieving mongrel is still living like an Arabian prince while thousands who planned to retire in comfort are heading back to work due to his criminal activity. (Mr. and Mrs. Madoff can be assured of relative comfort for the time being because she had the good sense to pull fifteen million dollars out of his investment firm just days before it collapsed.)

America has always been a land of double standards when it comes to meting out punishment. There are some fairly exclusive penitentiaries that were commonly referred to as Club Feds because they catered to white collar criminals and kept them away from the dregs of society who populate the big, mean, state prisons. Now, with the sagging economy and the resultant uptick in crime, even some of those are opening their gilded doors to everyone. The result is that America's "better" criminals are occasionally having to share the lock-up accommodations with riff-raff.

But Bernie Madoff is above and beyond all of that. He is such an exclusive criminal that a judge ordered him held under "house-arrest" (in his luxurious New York apartment) until he can be brought to trial. House-arrest sounds like something that would be imposed on a junior high student for violating a curfew. Some poor smuck who steals food for his family at a Quick Stop could expect six months in the slammer, and if he happened to be Black he could easily face five or six years behind bars.

The American legal system is twiddling its thumbs and embarrassing itself with bureaucratic lethargy, but in Florida a group of young people have decided to take action. The group stole a large bronze statue from the grounds of the Madoff Villa on Key Biscayne and returned it a week or so later with a note saying that it was not nice to steal from others. Ouch! Days later they were at it again, this time teepeeing the Florida mansion with toilet paper. Madoff's Florida maid was out early the next morning cleaning up the mess.

So, not only do Bernie and the Missus still own those eleven properties, not only are they still living well on his ill-gotten gains, not only has he yet to make any restitution, he still has domestic help to look after his properties! Bernie Madoff is truly a national embarrassment!

Bernie, in the next life you need to be the peon out picking the toilet paper off of the lawn and out of the tree limbs. You need to be the one going back to work in your seventies or eighties in order to eat and pay the utility bills. You need to be the one eating in the soup kitchens and wearing rags. And you need to be the one with a soul - because during this lifetime you have been a truly worthless, soulless bastard!

1 comment:

xobekim said...

In the U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Madoff's case is set over until March 13th. Proceedings against him are in their earliest stags, he has yet to be indicted by the federal Grand Jury. He is charged by information only.

Relax, under the law everyone is innocent until proven guilty. The wheels of justice move slowly, but they do move.

Even if Madoff pleads guilty to some lesser offense, as may well happen, there's nowhere near a billion dollars left. The feds, SEC, siezed what they could. His eleven houses will be taken once he is convicted.

The civil litigation will be handled by medium sized to small firms. Direct investors may have their losses, or some portion of them, covered by the SIPC, the Securities Investors Protection Corp. Most of Madoff's customers were not direct customers.

A lot of good folk were duped by this Ponzi scheme. Greed is intoxicating, very intoxicating. Some people relied on their investment broker's counsel, only hoping for an honest return on their money. Those are the true victims. It is a terrible thing. But we can't talk prison until he's properly charged, tried, and a result is produced.

Meanwhile what was frittered away by fraud in Iraq since we invaded makes Bernie Madoff look like bell ringer for the Salvation Army.

That investigation is in its infancy but reports say the losses to the Treasury may go as high as $120 billion.