"May your jail cell be your coffin," one of Bernard Madoff's victims said in the courtroom on Monday, as Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that collectively scammed "investors" out an estimated $65 billion. His victims will probably get their wish; the 71-year-old is unlikely to escape his sentence alive. But many other notorious white-collar criminals have served their time and risen from the ashes of past crimes and ruined careers - although not all! Let's take a look at what some of Madoff's luckier peers are doing now.
- Martha Stewart: Domestic Diva's Career Only Gets Sweeter After "Camp Cupcake"
In 2004, Martha Stewart spent five months behind bars at a minimum security federal woman's prison in West Virginia (dubbed "Camp Cupcake") for obstruction of justice, conspiracy and lying to investigators about a 2001 sale of nearly 4,000 shares of ImClone stock. In the aftermath of her conviction her company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, faltered, losing more than $300 million. The company bounced back to profitability in 2006, although she no longer serves as CEO; she agreed to not serve as an executive or director of any public company until 2011 in order to settle a civil case with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Today the once-maligned pinup of corporate fraud is once again the much-loved face of daytime TV and magazine stands. She continues to expand her massive empire with Martha Stewart branded furniture, paint, flooring, fresh and frozen foods, wine and craft supplies. Oh, and her bank account is still healthy at more than $630 million. (For more on Martha, see Top 4 Most Scandalous Insider Trading Debacles.)
- Raffaello Follieri: Vati-Con Is Still Serving Time
When you're dating one of Hollywood's hottest stars - actress Anne Hathaway - life is good. Until you screw it up. Follieri scammed investors out of millions by claiming to be a U.S. representative to the Vatican, a role which he said enabled him to purchase properties owned by the Catholic Church at below-market prices for investors. The only thing investors actually financed was Follieri's lavish lifestyle. He was found guilty of 11 counts of money laundering, conspiracy and wire fraud in 2008 and is now serving out his 4.5-year sentence at New York's Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, New York.
- Bernard Ebbers: No Weekends for "Bernie"
In July of 2006, the former CEO of WorldCom was found guilty of masterminding an $11 billion fraud case by misclassifying expenditures as assets and intentionally misleading investors. The scam bankrupted the once-thriving company. Like similarly scandalized former Enron CEO Jeffrey Skilling, Ebbers is serving out his 25-year sentence at a low-security federal prison. Ebbers is not scheduled to be released from the Yazoo City Federal Correction Center in Mississippi until he is 85 years old.
- Conrad Black: From Silk and Marble to Cotton and Concrete
Conrad Black, a member of the British House of Lords and former media titan, was found guilty of wire and mail fraud in 2007 for looting millions from the Chicago Sun Times and Hollinger International. He is currently serving out his 6.5-year sentence in a Coleman, Florida, federal prison. Just last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear Black's appeal; he has requested that he be freed on bail during the appeal process.
- Michael Milken: Prostate Cancer Reforms Junk Bond King
Known infamously as the "Junk Bond King", Milken was found guilty on 98 counts spanning a wide range of infractions including securities fraud, tax evasion and racketeering. His sentence was reduced to 10 years after he agreed to a plea bargain, but only served two years in jail. Once vilified as the embodiment of greed and wayward capitalism, the former financier's life reached a turning point in 1993 when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Since then, he has focused his post-prison life on supporting a variety of charities, primarily within medical research. He launched the Prostate Cancer Foundation in 1993, which is currently the largest charitable organization dedicated to that cause. He expanded his interest to other serious diseases, and founded FasterCures, a medical think tank, in 2003. (For more on Milken, read 4 History-Making Wall Street Crooks.)
- Ivan Boesky: Consultant Is Barred from Securities Industry for Life
No friend to Michael Milken, whom he helped put behind bars by serving as an informant to the SEC, Boesky was a master of corporate mergers and acquisitions. He was found guilty of numerous charges of share-trading fraud and, like Milken, entered into a plea bargain agreement with his prosecutor. In 1987, he was sentenced to 3.5 years at the minimum security Lompoc Federal Prison Camp for insider trading. Since leaving the California prison in 1990, Boesky and his wife, Seema, have divorced, and Boesky secured $180,000 of annual temporary alimony from his ex-wife. He developed an interest in Judaism and spent time studying at Jewish Theological Seminary, but has never recovered personally or professionally. Although he reports working as a consultant, he was barred from working in the securities industry for life. (For more insight, see Defining Illegal Insider Trading.)
- Nicholas Leeson: "Rogue Trader" Gets a Taste of Stardom
As Leeson's own website asks: "How could one trader bring down the banking empire that had funded the Napoleonic Wars?" Leeson was found guilty of unauthorized speculative trading while serving as general manager of a futures market on the Singapore International Monetary Exchange (SIMEX) for Barings Bank. The staggering $1.4 billion loss he incurred (and tried to cover up) led to the demise of the 233-year-old British bank. He was sentenced to 6.5 years and served his time in Singapore's Changi Prison where he battled colon cancer. He remarried after his release in 1999 (his first wife divorced him while he was imprisoned) and settled in Galway, Ireland. Today, Leeson is a father of three, motivational speaker, author and CEO of Galway United, Ireland's football club. His first book, "Rogue Trader", was made into a movie in 1999, starring Ewan McGregor as Leeson. (For more on Leeson, see Trading's 6 Biggest Losers.)
- Marc Rich: Laying Low in Neutral Territory
The former commodities trainer was indicted on tax evasion and violating the U.S. trade embargo for selling oil to Iran during the early '80s at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis. Rich, who was living in Switzerland when he was indicted, received a presidential pardon from President Bill Clinton and hasn't returned to the U.S. since. He lives well away from the spotlight in Meggen, Switzerland, near Lake Lucerne; he is an avid art collector and personally funds several Israeli nonprofit organizations.
For many white-collar criminals, the path to personal and professional redemption may be unscalable. Those who manage to turn things around are in the minority, but apparently a stint in prison can reform even the most notorious fraudsters.
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