Key Madoff Employee Pleads Guilty; Fined $170 Billion

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A long-time employee of mega-swindler Bernie Madoff who turned government informant in 2009 has agreed to a plea deal with prosecutors. This marks the final prosecution in the more than six-year long Bernie Madoff case, who first admitted to his gigantic fraud back in late 2008.

Irwin Lipkin, 77, agreed he owes the government a Rolex watch, a well-known painting by Red Skelton and $170 billion cash on Monday, and was sentenced to six months in jail Wednesday on charges of conspiracy and making false statements in employment records.

Lipkin also agreed to give up a vacation home in Delray Beach, Florida as part of his plea deal, but he was allowed to keep another home in New Jersey, his stamp collection and another Red Skelton painting.

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More on Irwin Lipkin and Madoff scam

Lipkin was the last of 15 defendants charged in the Madoff case, and all either plead guilty or were convicted at trial.

Of note, the sentences for the other 14 defendants ranged from 10 years for Madoff’s brother, Peter, and another top exec, to no prison time for some who prosecuted fully with the prosecution.

Lipkin's defense advanced the argument he should not go to prison because of his poor health and because he didn’t know the full extent of Madoff’s scam. The prosecution, on the other hand, said Lipkin was trying to minimize his role, and lobbied the judge for a prison term.

Bernie Madoff “didn’t do this alone,” prosecutor David Abramowicz commented in the sentencing phase of the trial in federal court in Manhattan. “He didn’t do it alone because he couldn’t do it alone. He needed the help of people like Mr. Lipkin.”

A clearly frail Lipkin, who was one of Madoff’s very first employees more than 50 years ago, admitted in his guilty plea that he knowingly certified false documents. However, Lipkin insisted in his testimony to U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain that during all the years he worked for Madoff, he truly believed the business  “was absolutely on the up and up.”

Lipkin continued to say: “I would like to apologize to the court and to everybody else who may have been hurt by the things that I’ve done.”

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