The Sentencing of Madoff
Interview with Kendall Coffey
CNN – Rick Sanchez
March 12, 2009
Rick Sanchez: None of those people had any problem with talking to us today on TV. As a matter of fact, they wanted to get that message out. They’ve been wanting to get that message out for months now. Ashley Banfield is good enough to join us. She is the host of “In-Session TV.” Also, Kendall Coffey, former federal prosecutor in Miami. He and I worked many a cases. I don’t remember any quite like this one though in South Florida. Ash, I want to begin with you. I want to begin with you. Is this a death sentence for Bernie Madoff?
Ashley Banfield: You know most people think “yes,” and you probably heard the number being thrown out there a lot: up to 150 years. And the reality is, Rick, it’s not going to be 150 years. It’s not likely that these will all be concurrent sentences, or rather a consecutive sentence, but more likely some concurrency. And there’s a lot, by the way, that Bernie Madoff is doing and could be doing to mitigate the numbers of years that the judge will ultimately hand down.
Rick Sanchez: You almost wonder where he’s going to end up going to. Kendall, let me bring you into this question because a lot of people are wondering–is this guy going to end up in one of those country club jails we hear about all the time?
Kendall Coffey: You know so many times the interest of the public sort of drops off after the sentencing. This time, Rick, I think a lot of the victims are going to want to know where he’s staying. Now that he’s going from the “penthouse,” they want him to be going to the “big house.” In some of the low-security facilities, some of the Enron era marquee names are staying in right now. You remember Bernie Ebbers from WorldCom, John Regis from Adelphia–may not be grim and bleak enough as far as lot of these victims are concerned.
Rick Sanchez: You do wonder, though, and I don’t know which one of you wants to tackle this – why he went in today and said “I did it” knowing that. I mean he’s not going to getting out any time soon. Why didn’t he fight this?
Kendall Coffey: I think he knew he’s heading to effectively, a life sentence, but also knew he couldn’t save himself, and I think he’s trying to, in effect, do damage control for others to prevent some of the collateral damage to friends and family. He’s hoping that once the prosecution against Bernie Madoff ends, maybe the case in the investigation of the Bernie Madoff fraud may slow down a little bit – may taper off – because there’s a lot more people that have explaining to do about how this happened.
Ashley Banfield: I’m going to add to what Kendall’s saying. I think there’s a lot of that, and then I think there’s damage control for his sentence as well. Because one of the big golden tickets–when you admit your guilt and when you take responsibility for your crime–that does work a real magic formula into getting your sentence reduced. But then also, Rick, what I think he’s doing is helping, saying to the public, “I’m not costing you a huge trial. You didn’t even have to indict this case. I just came forward, admitted the guilt–so no cost to the public.” And then he could help prosecutors to do exactly what Kendall is saying. He could actually help them to get to other people perhaps. Maybe not his family, but other people who could have been in the know of this crime, and then could be held liable and get some of that restitution money for them. So there’s a few things he might be up to here strategically.
Rick Sanchez: Well, I tell you what–a lot of people are going to be shaking their heads following this thing, and obviously there are a lot of people today, those who lost their money, who are very happy to see this day come. My thanks to both of you. Ash and Kendall, we’ll be talking to you again.
Kendall Coffey: Hey, thanks Rick.