NEW YORK – Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff says he believes the judge who sentenced him to 150 years in prison for his epic fraud was so beholden to mob psychology he's surprised his penalty wasn't a public stoning.
The 73-year-old Madoff told The New York Times for its online edition Tuesday that U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin gave him a virtual death sentence two years ago by leaving him no chance at freedom. The anniversary of the sentencing is Wednesday.
Madoff, who spoke to the newspaper by telephone, said he believed the judge went along with "the mob psychology of the time."
"I'm surprised Chin didn't suggest stoning in the public square," Madoff said.
The judge told the newspaper he considered whether a sentence of 20 to 25 years might be acceptable, but he concluded that would've been "way too low."
"In the end, I just thought he didn't deserve it," the judge said. "The benefits of giving him hope were far outweighed by all of the other considerations."
Madoff admitted that he conned thousands of people into thinking the roughly $20 billion they left with him was properly invested. In fact, only a few hundred million dollars remained when he confessed to his sons in December 2008 that he had been operating a Ponzi scheme for about two decades, using money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients while financing a lavish lifestyle. He has been serving his sentence in Butner, N.C.
The Times said it interviewed the judge as part of a wider story about sentencings that will be published later.