In brief: Madoff brother sentenced for role in Ponzi scheme
New York – The brother of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff was sentenced Thursday to 10 years in prison for crimes committed in the shadow of his notorious sibling by a judge who said she disbelieved his claims that he did not know about the epic fraud.
Peter Madoff, 67, had agreed when he pleaded guilty in June to serve the maximum sentence allowable to the charges of conspiracy and falsifying the books and records of an investment adviser. He follows to prison his 74-year-old brother, who is serving a 150-year sentence after admitting he created a fraud so large decades ago that thousands of people lost $20 billion.
U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain urged Peter Madoff to tell the truth even now.
The judge said Peter Madoff, wearing a well-tailored charcoal suit, was “frankly not believable” when he claimed at his plea hearing that he only learned of the fraud when his brother revealed it to him just before he surrendered to authorities.
Peter Madoff spoke briefly Thursday and less emotionally than in June, saying: “I am deeply ashamed of my conduct and have tried to atone by pleading guilty and have agreed to forfeit all of my present and future assets.”
House passes defense bill over Pentagon objections
Washington – The House on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a $633 billion defense bill for next year despite Pentagon complaints that it spares outdated but politically popular weapons at the expense of the military’s ability to fight.
The vote was 315-107 and sent the legislation to the Senate, where leaders hoped to wrap up the measure. The White House had threatened a veto of earlier versions of the bill, and spokesman Jay Carney said Thursday that the threat still stands.
The far-reaching policy bill that covers the cost of ships, aircraft, weapons and military personnel would authorize $528 billion for the Defense Department’s base budget, $17 billion for defense and nuclear programs in the Energy Department and $88.5 billion for the war in Afghanistan.
The bill is $1.7 billion more than Obama requested.
In a speech this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta criticized the pressure on the Pentagon to keep weapons that it doesn’t want. “Aircraft, ships, tanks, bases, even those that have outlived their usefulness, have a natural political constituency. Readiness does not,” Panetta said.