Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2009

Bernie Madoff

The admission that his money-management operation was a Ponzi scheme came in 2008, but 2009 was when the details about Bernie Madoff spilled out. The Nasdaq co-founder pleaded guilty (and added an "I'm sorry") in March to 11 felonies and was sentenced to 150 years in prison. The losses suffered by Madoff's investors, earlier thought to be as high as $70 billion, were revised by the victims' trustee down to $20 billion, of which lawyers have so far recovered $1.1 billion — by selling, among other things, a New York Mets jacket with Madoff embroidered on the back. The inspector general of the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a report that tried to explain why the agency hadn't caught Madoff's massive scam (the main verdict: SEC investigators were easily snowed). And at Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina in October, the 71-year-old Madoff reportedly got into his first prison fight — and won.

— Justin Fox