The attorney for admitted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff has asked a judge to sentence his client to 12 years in prison -- noting that he'll be dead in around 13 years, anyway. Lawyer Ira Sorkin wrote in a letter to Judge Denny Chin:
"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 without being greater than necessary to achieve them."
Sorkin said the 71-year-old Madoff's additional life expectancy is just 12.6 years. Madoff faces a sentence of up to 150 years behind bars when he's sentenced Monday in New York City. Madoff admitted to stealing some $65 billion from his clients in the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. He wiped out the life savings of many of his thousands of clients, and severly hurt many of the charities which invested with him.
While Sorkin said 12 years is sufficient, he said 15-20 years would be appropriate as well, given the sentences given to other white collar criminals:
"Indeed, such a range will appropriately eliminate concerns for disparate treatment among similarly situated nonviolent offenders."
At least 8 of Madoff's victims are expected to testify at the sentencing. Sorkin urged the judge not to give into "mob vengence," while trying to gain sympathy for his disgraced client:
"Thankfully none of the fury expressed in the victim impact statements has been as shocking as the death threats and anti-Semitic e-mails that have been directed toward Mr. Madoff and his counsel. We respectfully submit that it is the duty of the court to set aside the emotion and hysteria attendant to this case and render a sentence that is just and proportionate to the conduct at issue."
Sorkin also said Madoff will address the court, so he can "speak to the shame he has felt and to the pain he has caused."
Janice Oh, a spokeswoman for federal prosecutors in Manhattan, said the office had no comment.