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Monday, August 24, 2009

Lesson to Madoff: Don't Cry Wolf!

A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons denied that uber-Ponzi-scheme-artist Bernard L. Madoff has cancer or is somehow not expected to live long.    This is in response to an apparently poorly-sourced New York Post report this morning which now seems to have been based on the say-so from an inmate.

Perhaps the Post saw an opportunity to snag a scoop, but jumped the gun and didn't vet its source properly (if at all).   Its credibility takes a big hit today.   The Post used to be a credible newspaper, in the days of Alexander Hamilton and before the first reign of Rupert Murdoch.  Even now during Murdoch II, it still retains many fine investigative reporters covering its business and politics beats.   But this gaffe evokes memories of the "Headless Body in Topless Bar" headline from the 1970s.   Today, the Post goes to the bottom of the bird cage.  Save your fifty cents.  (Mortimer Zuckerman is cackling today.)

Lesson to Madoff:  Any effort at sympathy will demonstrate more of the chutzpah your lawyers already demonstrated (in asking for a sentence of 10-12 years) and which resulted in you getting the max (150 years, or 100% of what the government proposed) at sentencing.  If you're unhappy, appeal it so your victims can revel in your smackdown by the Second Circuit.    

On the other hand, when your top-dollar lawyer gets you no value-added at sentencing, even after you've pled guilty and offered "assistance" to the authorities, maybe your faith in your counsel is shaky.  Earth to Madoff:  there are thousands of underemployed lawyers out there, and some of them actually know what they're doing and would love a challenge.

Eric Dixon is a New York lawyer and strategic analyst who engages in crisis management and other matters. Mr. Dixon cautions readers that this article is not legal advice. Mr. Dixon may be contacted for further comment through edixon@NYBusinessCounsel.com, or at 917-696-2442.


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