Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Bernard Madoff and Creative Justice

Vigilante justice is a problem world wide. According to the Times of London, two elderly couples who had been swindled of their life savings bypassed legal authorities and took matters into their own hands, tying up James Amburn, who had apparently invested around $3 million dollars belonging to the two couples in Florida real estate which subsequently went into foreclosure. The Times of London reports as follows on the privatised justice allegedly administered by the aggrieved couples

"After being bundled into the boot of an Audi in the west German town of Speyer, Mr Amburn was driven southwards to Chieming, close to the Austrian border, where one of the couples Roland K, and his wife, Sieglinde, 79, had a holiday home.

The financial adviser claims he was held there in a cellar for four days almost naked, fed soup twice a day and beaten. Another couple, Gerhard F, 63, and his wife, Iris, 66, both retired doctors, allegedly helped to torture the prisoner.

“I was beaten. They threatened again and again to kill me,” Mr Amburn said. At least two of his ribs were fractured.

Mr Amburn says he tried to escape once when he was permitted to smoke in the garden. He scaled the wall and ran though the rain in his underpants calling for help.

The pensioners pursued him in their car, shouting: “Stop that man! He’s a burglar!” Two locals pinned him to the pavement and he was taken back to the cellar, where he claims he received another beating.

The investment consultant’s break came when he was allowed to send a fax to a Swiss bank asking for the transfer of the funds demanded by the gang.

On the fax he pretended to refer to call options and to insurance policies (the German word for a financial policy is police). This came out as “call.pol-ice.”

“They didn’t notice it but someone at the bank was bright enough to spot it,” Mr Amburn said.

The pensioners are under arrest on suspicion of deprivation of liberty, torture and inflicting grievous bodily harm. These charges carry a maximum of 15 years in prison."

Although the article focuses mainly on the Amburn kidnapping, it does place it in the context of other crimes committed by senior citizens angry at the system for everything from bloated bonuses for bank presidents and other injustices.

In related developments, Bernard Madoff has been pleading through his lawyers for a twelve year sentence for his massive Ponzi scheme conviction, according to the New York Post. Citing anti Jewish e-mails to Madoff and his lawyer, Madoff's defense team ignored the disproportionately high percentage of Jewish victims who Madoff had met in his and his wife's social circles.( Perhaps since so many of Madoff's victims were Jewish, he could be prosecuted for hate crimes.)

In a further display of unmitigated gall, Madoff cited the calls for vengeance as evidence of a call for "mob vengeance."

The writer of the New York Post article pointed out that if Madoff were to get twelve years in jail, that he would be serving one year for every $451 million he stole.

I believe that the interests of justice would best be served by merging the German kidnapping case with Madoff's sentencing. Like Madoff, the two German couples who kidnapped the man who robbed them are also elderly people facing possible hard time for crimes that look very bad on paper. I believe they are misguided elderly folks who should get community service. I propose the following as community service.

Since the two couples in Germany have already secured their home for purposes of imprisonment, I feel that Mr. Madoff should be transferred to their custody. For two months, Mr. Madoff should live at their expense. That would take care of the requirement for community service. Afterward, the two couples should get a salary and funds for property maintenance as well as a food allowance for the cost of incarcerating Bernard Madoff. Their prior experience for which they have been charged in the German courts shows that they have the skills needed to make Mr. Madoff's incarceration both memorable and educational. Most American prisons are located in rural areas and near small towns. The two German couples could provide similar ambiance in their own home.

Normally, an elderly couple who has lost their entire life savings would be destitute. Taking care of Mr. Madoff could solve this problem, since the couple would probably earn about $80 thousand a year taking care of him.

There are so many stories sitting side by side in our daily papers waiting to be merged. Bernard Madoff's upcoming sentence and the impromptu justice meted out by elderly German scam victims are two such stories. Wouldn't it be nice if we could tie the two stories together? Sphere: Related Content

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