On the day of Peter Madoff’s sentencing, it is only fitting that the victims be heard. In a stark contrast to the image of the man portrayed by those who wrote in support of Peter Madoff, Document 298 filed by the U.S. Department of Justice on December 19, 2012 contains eleven additional victim impact statements that were presented to the Honorable Laura Taylor Swain.
Perhaps you have the impression that all of the Madoff Victims were either very wealthy individuals or institutional investors. While it’s clear that many of the victims fit this profile, it was painful to read about the financial position that many of these folks now find themselves in.
The first Impact Statement was submitted by email to the U.S. Justice Department by Marcia Ellis on behalf of Victim Martin & Marcia Ellis. The Ellis couple was comfortably retired and living in Maine when they learned from their daughter that they had lost all of their money in the Madoff Ponzi Scheme. Their losses extended to brothers, sisters, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts and uncles. The Ellis Family filed amended tax returns with the IRS which were rejected. An appeal, which took them more than two years, resulted in a a tax adjustment of only 75% of their actual losses.
Mrs. Ellis now describes her life as one of:
“discount stores and living as in expensively as we can. Will we be able to support ourselves in our golden years – we can not plea bargain that reality away”.
The second victim statement came from Jill and Nancy Miller and was filed in order to express their dissatisfaction with the sentencing extension that Peter Madoff received from the court in order to be able to file amended tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. The victims reported that Mr. Madoff was not using his time to get his tax situation resolved but rather:
“he was out an about enjoying a leisurely lunch in an expensive upper east side restaurant where many of his victims would like to eat but can’t afford to. Yet miraculously he can. I saw him personally eating in this restaurant. He has nerve showing his face and flaunting his freedom (extra). I hope he savored the food cause that’s not what he will get in PRISON!”
Perhaps the most heart breaking Victim Impact Statement was iled by Morton J. Chalek, a World War II Veteran. Mr. Chalek’s short statement made such an impact that it has been included in its entirety:
I welcome the opportunity to vent my spleen regarding the Madoff fiasco.
In the way of an introduction:
- When Pearl Harbor was bombed, I stood online overnight in order to enlist in the Air Force. I then flew 23 combat missions.
- After I was discharged, I worked hard, built a successful business and saved enough for a comfortable (well earned) retirement.
- Then my attorney introduced me to his golf partner, Bernie Madoff.
I am now 90 years old and bankrupt. I have been waiting hopelessly to recover the money Madoff stole from me. At the very least, I expected to receive some compensation from my SIPC insurance. Four years have passed and I have received nothing and, I see no help coming from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Mr. Picard and his clan seem to be thriving while my cause seems to be helpless.”
Morton J. Chalek
Victim Natalie, who signed her statement with the title: Direct Investor Sentenced to a Lifetime of Financial Ruin and Emotional Unrest provided perhaps the most interesting perspective for Judge Swain to consider when sentencing Peter Madoff today:
Peter Madoff was educated in the law. He was savvy enough to help create the computerized trading system. He worked closely with his brother for years. He aided and abetted his brother and helped the scheme to continue and thrive. He did a lot of damage over a long period of time. He ran the daily operations for the past 20 years and should be sentenced to the same amount of time. 20 years.
While the Federal Sentencing Guidelines are extremely complex, we would like to commend Natalie Erger for her wisdom and simplicity. Moreover for her courage and those of all who have spoken out with respect to this financial disaster. We express our sympathy for all of those who have had their lives impacted by the Madoff Ponzi Scheme and hope that the sentence imposed today on Peter Madoff by Judge Swain provides each and every one of them with some small measure of justice for their losses.