Survivors of the Holocaust said they wrote about their terrible experiences as a way of bearing witness to the world.
MELVILLE, N.Y. — Survivors of the Holocaust said they wrote about their terrible experiences as a way of bearing witness to the world.
For investor Burt Ross, his decision to speak in Manhattan Federal Court today at the sentencing of swindler Bernard Madoff is motivated by a similar concern.
“I speak to bear witness,” Ross, 66, of Englewood, N.J., told Newsday. “If nobody spoke, it would appear to be a victimless crime when it is anything but that.”
There are thousands of victims of Madoff in what is Wall Street’s largest Ponzi scheme. Hundreds of them will pack a Manhattan courtroom today to see Madoff get sentenced to what is expected to be the rest of his life in prison.
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Eleven, including Ross, have asked to address the court before Judge Denny Chin turns Madoff over to federal prison officials.
Until 2004, only victims of violent crimes could speak at a federal sentencing, said Jayne Barnard, a professor of law at The College of William and Mary who wrote a law review article that helped changed the practice to include fraud victims.
“It is very empowering for victims to tell their story, very useful for the judges,” Barnard said.
Said Sharon Lissauer, a model from Manhattan: “It is the only way I’m going to get closure.”
Court officials are bracing for a large crowd and have reserved the palatial ninth-floor courtroom of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. It is a room that seats about 300.
Hundreds more will watch proceedings on television downstairs.
Madoff, 71, faces a 150-year maximum. While his attorney asked for a 12-year term because of his client’s age, Madoff is likely to die behind prison walls.
The Wall Street wizard who once touted a net worth of close to $1 billion is also going to be penniless. Prosecutors have asked that everything Madoff owns, as well as substantial assets of his wife, Ruth, be surrendered. The money will be used to compensate the victims.
Chin will probably sign an order of forfeiture that spells out exactly what assets the Madoffs are losing. But even those hundreds of millions of dollars won’t cover the losses.
While the last statements Madoff sent to investors in November totaled $65 billion, investigators believe the true losses will run from $13 billion to $21 billion.
After Madoff is taken away, he will probably spend a week in the same cell he has called home since he pleaded guilty in March. Bureau of Prison officials will then assign him to a correctional institution.