Center for Ethics and Leadership

Thursday, July 2, 2009

White Collar Crime Gets Paid Big Time

Long ago in 1949, one of America's great sociologists and founders of criminology, Edwin H. Sutherland, wrote White Collar Crime. His work set standards in recognizing that the wealthy and powerful were susceptible to a sort of criminality to be distinguished from what was called "street crime."

Nonetheless, our popular images of criminality rarely include multimillionaire brokers.

Until this week.

Bernard Madoff got the maximum -- 150 years. The sentence was ten times longer than his defense attorneys suggested and 3 times longer than the federal probation office recommended.

Worse, no one submitted letters to Judge Denny Chin vouching for Madoff's strength of character or previous good deeds.

Worst, no member of his immediate family was present for the sentencing.

It's a long way down.

The sentence is interesting in another way. It suggests that America is taking white-collar crime much more seriously nowadays. Criminals can ruin others' lives in many ways.


  • Street criminals do not have d&o policies that minimize institutional damager. One token prosecution in one of the largest financial meltdowns in modern history does not suggest to me that white collar criminals should start to fear prosecution. What proportion of the leftover swindled assets remain in the hands of his family and friends?

    I would like to get my hands on the ratio of incarcerated "white collar criminals" to "street criminals". I would also venture to guess that the only thing white about white collar criminals is not their collar.

    Sadly for the rest of us, Madoff is no more than a token exception, a 21st century Ivan Boesky.

    By Blogger kobe2, At July 18, 2009 6:07 AM  

  • Here is a link to an associated press article - Prison Consultants help inmates get good digs. Madoff's consultant is serving 'gratis';NEWSROOMAPPID=Gk5ZKn8Sl1yhZ90s9jwHpmgyrrvnfhbTzpTfrNXgRnckdzhWKQpB!-476556001?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=newsroom_portal_page__article&_article=2074224

    Another example of having had friends in high places (I guess).

    By Blogger kobe2, At July 28, 2009 6:30 AM  

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