A spate of horrific news from the Snohomish County mudslide to the disappearance of the Malaysian airliner has consumed our attention. A shocking loss of lives, and disturbing, perplexing circumstances.
The epic financial swindle orchestrated by Bernard Madoff was a different kind of American tragedy, but it has haunted the nation. Now a measure of good news has emerged.
Five of his key aides were convicted of fraud and are headed for prison for years and years and years. The verdict in New York is the latest development in an investigation that has taken five years. Madoff is already in prison with a 150-year sentence.
Madoff and his collaborators ran a Ponzi scheme that is now understood to date to the 1970s. The thugs headed to prison truly made it work. They produced all the phony paperwork and reports to convince investors their money was safe and earning a nice return.
Madoff is a potent symbol of the financial abuses suffered by America, but the criminal impact is wider and deeper. The federal government, and that means the White House and Congress together, have not done much to hold crooked banks and mortgage lenders responsible for the scams they inflicted on the country. Americans put misplaced trust in investment ratings, which were supposed to inform and protect them. Not much has changed.
For all of the delight in seeing Madoff and his nefarious crew held accountable, there is a lot more to be done.