Last Mad­off de­fen­dant gets 6 months in prison

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

A judge sen­tenced the last de­fen­dant in the Bernard Mad­off case on Wed­nes­day to six months in prison, mark­ing the end of a pros­e­cu­tion that lasted more than six years and dis­pelled claims by the dis­graced fi­nancier that he acted alone in pulling off his epic Ponzi scheme that bilked in­vestors of bil­lions.

Ir­win Lip­kin, 77, had pleaded guilty in 2012 to help­ing con­ceal the fraud from reg­u­la­tors by fal­si­fy­ing records as comptroller of the firm. He is among a to­tal of 15 de­fen­dants charged in the case, in­clud­ing Mad­off, who ei­ther pleaded guilty or were con­victed at trial.

The de­fense had ar­gued that Lip­kin shouldn’t go to prison be­cause of his fail­ing health and be­cause he didn’t know the full ex­tent of Mad­off’s scheme. The gov­ern­ment coun­tered by ac­cus­ing him of try­ing to min­i­mize his role, and told the judge that a prison term was ap­pro­pri­ate.

Mad­off “didn’t do this alone,” pros­e­cu­tor David Abramow­icz said in fed­eral court in Man­hat­tan. “He didn’t do it alone be­cause he couldn’t do it alone. He needed the help of peo­ple like Mr. Lip­kin.”

A frail- look­ing Lip­kin, who was hired as one of Mad­off’s first em­ploy­ees in the 1960s, had ad­mit­ted in his guilty plea that he know­ingly cer­ti­fied false doc­u­ments. But he also told U.S. Dis­trict Judge Laura Tay­lor Swain that dur­ing the decades he worked for Mad­off, he be­lieved the op­er­a­tion “was ab­so­lutely on the up and up.”

Still, he added: “I would like to apol­o­gize to the court and to ev­ery­body else who may have been hurt by the things that I’ve done.”

Mad­off re­vealed his fraud in De­cem­ber 2008 amid a col­laps­ing econ­omy, ac­knowl­edg­ing that ac­count state­ments show­ing that clients held nearly US$68 bil­lion were a sham. The roughly US$17.5 bil­lion in prin­ci­pal in­vested by re­tirees, char­i­ties and other clients over decades was mostly gone — paid out as fake prof­its or raided by Mad­off’s fam­ily and cronies.

Mad­off pleaded guilty to fraud charges a few months later and was sen­tenced to a 150- year prison term in But­ner, North Carolina.

Sen­tences for the re­main­ing 14 de­fen­dants have ranged from 10 years for Mad­off’s brother, Peter, and another top ex­ec­u­tive at the firm to no prison time for cooper­a­tors. One de­fen­dant died be­fore he could be sen­tenced.

The judge also sen­tenced Lip­kin to 18 months of house ar­rest af­ter he serves his prison term.

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