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Bernard Madoff ran what was probably the largest Ponzi scheme not affiliated with the United States government or one of the Fortune 500 in history. He swindled clients out of billions of dollars, including the life savings of individuals and the operating capital of charitable organizations. The scandal has already led to at least one suicide, that of a French money manager who lost $1 billion of his clients' (and his own) money

Instead of being thrown in jail like your average crook caught shoplifting a candy bar at Wal-Mart, Mr. Madoff is under "house arrest" in a $7 million New York City penthouse suite. Of course, the courts ordered that his assets be frozen until officials can figure out exactly where all the stolen money went and why the government didn't get its cut of the loot.

But far be it for Madoff to consider himself lucky that he doesn't have it nearly as bad as your average crook who steals far less--or, perhaps, even show some kind of remorse. Madoff is still testing the limits of what he can get away with. From his luxurious apartment, prosecutors are now saying he tried to dispose of assets by mailing millions of dollars worth of diamonds, precious stones, and jewelry to friends and relatives.

As a result, officials are asking a judge to send Madoff to jail--you know, the place where they put the criminals. Deciding to send a criminal to jail after he steals billions of dollars, causes a man to kill himself, and violates the terms of his release is apparently too complicated of a decision for the judge assigned to the case. So the judge is weighing the issues and meanwhile Madoff is still free to live in luxury. Ah, if only your common hoodlum who writes a bad check (possibly out of desperation to feed his family) could get such a good deal.

But wait! There's more! If you invest now, we'll also give you the story of the Madoff "victims" who actually reaped considerable profits from this little scam and are now having to deal with the realization that those "profits" are simply money stolen from other investors. Ah, so now we really have an interesting little pickle here: what does one do with the knowledge that they have "profited" from ill-gotten gains? Give the money back? Be very quiet and hope no one notices? Get in line with the other "victims" for restitution, perhaps? My my...decisions, decisions.

Don't you just love capitalism run amok? And here some of you thought the crash of the stock market was entertaining...

(cross-posted to theleftunited and my personal journal.)