While the three months he spent behind bars awaiting formal sentencing didn't make him any more cooperative with investigators, or sympathetic toward his thousands of victims, Bernie Madoff did get one benefit from life inside: the chubby fraudster lost weight.
As he stood before U.S. District Judge Dennis Chin in the packed and emotionally volatile courtroom in downtown Manhattan, where the 71-year-old ultimate symbol of greed was sentenced to the maximum 150 years in prison on the sunny morning of Monday, June 29, 2009, he was visibly thinner. Bernie's custom-tailored Savile Row suit, one of the ones he'd had cut to match his ultrathin cell phone, hung on him and was no longer form-fitting as he stood to hear his victims' anger and the judge's declaration.
The historic day began with nine of Bernie's victims in his massive Ponzi scheme eloquently and emotionally asking the judge to impose the maximum sentence, not the dozen years the admitted swindler's attorney had requested, claiming "mob vengeance." Ira Sorkin told the court, "Vengeance is not the goal of punishment."
But that's not the way his victims saw it. They spent almost an hour of the 90-minute courtroom drama voicing their anguish.
"He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in-between. He had no values," declared Tom Fitzmaurice. "He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife Ruth could live a life of luxury beyond belief."
Through the nine heart-wrenching soliloquy-like ...