Bernard Madoff

Photo from Wikimedia Commons

What was the accusation?

In June 2009, a U.S. federal judge sentenced stockbroker and former chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison. His crime? Perpetrating what many have dubbed the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. Madoff had previously confessed to running such a scheme, which involved the massive defrauding of thousands of unaware investors out of billions of dollars. Prior to the court’s sentencing, Madoff delivered a formal apology for the record, expressing remorse for his actions and the harm they inflicted on his victims.     

Key Apologia Strategies:





Your Honor, I cannot offer you an excuse for my behavior. How do you excuse betraying thousands of investors who entrusted me with their life savings? How do you excuse deceiving 200 employees who have spent most of their working life working for me? How do you excuse lying to your brother and two sons who spent their whole adult life helping to build a successful and respectful business? How do you excuse lying and deceiving a wife who stood by you for 50 years, and still stands by you? And how do you excuse deceiving an industry that you spent a better part of your life trying to improve? There is no excuse for that, and I don’t ask any forgiveness. Although I may not have intended any harm, I did a great deal of harm. I believed when I started this problem, this crime, that it would be something I would be able to work my way out of, but that became impossible. As hard as I tried, the deeper I dug myself into a hole. I made a terrible mistake, but it wasn’t the kind of mistake that I had made time and time again, which is a trading mistake. In my business, when you make a trading error, you’re expected to make a trading error, it’s accepted. My error was much more serious. I made an error of judgment. I refused to accept the fact, could not accept the fact, that for once in my life I failed. I couldn’t admit that failure and that was a tragic mistake.
I am responsible for a great deal of suffering and pain. I understand that. I live in a tormented state now knowing of all the pain and suffering that I have created. I have left a legacy of shame, as some of my victims have pointed out, to my family and my grandchildren. That’s something I will live with for the rest of my life.
People have accused me of being silent and not being sympathetic. That is not true. They have accused my wife of being silent and not being sympathetic. Nothing could be further from the truth. She cries herself to sleep every night knowing of all the pain and suffering I have caused, and I am tormented by that as well. She was advised to not speak publicly until after my sentencing by our attorneys, and she complied with that. Today she will make a statement about how she feels about my crimes. I ask you to listen to that. She is sincere and all I ask you is to listen to her. Apologizing and saying I am sorry, that’s not enough. Nothing I can say will correct the things that I have done. I feel terrible that an industry I spent my life trying to improve is being criticized terribly now, that regulators who I helped work with over the years are being criticized by what I have done. That is a horrible guilt to live with. There is nothing I can do that will make anyone feel better for the pain and suffering I caused them, but I will live with this pain, with this torment for the rest of my life. I apologize to my victims. I will turn and face you. I am sorry. I know that doesn’t help you. Your Honor, thank you for listening to me.


Bernie Madoff’s apology. The Daily Beast. Retrieved from

Smith, A. (2009, June 30). Madoff sentenced to 150 years. CNN Money. Retrieved from

Bernard Madoff biography. Bio. Retrieved from