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The Courts The Almighty Buck

Bernie Madoff's Programmers Arrested 280

ZipK writes "With their former boss cooling his heels on a 150-year sentence, programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez are now in the US Attorney's crosshairs. They've been arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, and 'accused of producing false documents and trading records at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC in New York.' Apparently Madoff's fraud was too large and too complex to be foisted entirely by hand."
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Bernie Madoff's Programmers Arrested

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  • by jhfry ( 829244 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @04:59PM (#30091736)

    I always tell my kids that "so-and-so made me do it" is no defense. And I'm sure nearly every parent has taught their children that for generations. I hope these guys roast for not listening to their parents!

  • interesting (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Trepidity ( 597 ) <delirium-slashdot.hackish@org> on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:09PM (#30091860)

    I went to an engineering school that was founded in the aftermath of WW2, so had a strong ethos of: "scientists and engineers need to understand what we're doing and why, not just implement stuff other people tell us to". I.e., don't assume the people above you are in charge of the "why" and as the scientist/engineer all you need to care about is the "how". Usually it's seen as more of an ethics thing, but interesting to be reminded that on occasion it can be a matter of self-interest, too, since you have a legal responsibility to know what you're doing and why, at least to some minimum degree.

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:22PM (#30092002) Homepage Journal

    You're a computer programmer, in your mid 40s. Finding work is difficult for a programmer after 40, every one around you is becoming stinking rich, law enforcement seems to not pay attention when things go well, you have kids in college, and you boss is pressuring.

    Every day you go in and deal with these people, everyday they lie and cut corners and get rich without any legal issues.

    What they did was wrong, but I can certainly understand why they did it, and I can't say for 100% I wouldn't have done the same thing. I like to think I wouldn't, but still.

  • by NoYob ( 1630681 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:29PM (#30092064)
    Not necessarily.

    After the Y2K and the 2001 tech crash, there wasn't as much of a demand for coders, especially with most of the new projects being web based - if you were a C/C++ coder, there were more coders than jobs.* Also, offshoring was picking up steam and then there is the age factor. When you get above 40, folks start wondering why you're still wanting to code or they think you're too old to be doing the 80+ hour week crunch periods or you're not willing (or too smart) to do that - either way, there is some age-ism in tech. Yeah, yeah, I know there are folks who are in their 60s working at jobs coding - I knew one myself, but they're not the norm.

    Now, when your back is against the wall and someone puts a shit load of cash under your nose doing something that may or may not be ethical or even legal, you may do it. I wouldn't judge these guys unless you've been in their shoes.

    The other thing is, I'm sure Madoff did NOT tell them upfront that what they were doing was illegal. He or his cohorts just gave those guys a programming assignment and didn't give specifics. Later on, those guys probably had a good idea what was going on, though but then, who knows what was going through their heads. Maybe, "Hey, we haven't been caught after all these years. WTF!"

    *Look now, Microsoft has even laid people off! Times are rough! There are job postings at a few companies I know of and they're telling me that they're getting bombarded by very qualified people. To weed them out, they're getting ridiculously picky.

  • Re:But (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CannonballHead ( 842625 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @05:36PM (#30092152)

    The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest

    Ah yes. A great Biblical scholar. All Biblical scholars know that Jesus definitely was trying to protect self-interest. So was Paul, when he said

    Philippians 2:3 (New International Version)
    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

    And Jesus when He talked about being meek, humble, lowly, generous, forgiving, feeding the poor, clothing the naked. And the rest of the Bible when it talks about humility, that God hates the pride, that God "sides" with the humble, that God resists the proud, that God sees the poor and needy, that God judges the unjust - especially when they are rich and they unjustly treat the poor ...

    Definitely "an endorsement of self-interest." Frankly, I would guess that Griffiths has never read the Bible but pulled that quote from somewhere because he was in St. Paul's Cathedral and thus wanted to appear religious in some way. To most people that actually have read the Bible and even more so to people that believe it, he only comes off as being ignorant and just using the words of Jesus to excuse his own selfishness and greed (also talked about in the Bible in quite condemning terms). Not sure that's what he meant to do.

  • Re:interesting (Score:2, Interesting)

    by PitaBred ( 632671 ) <> on Friday November 13, 2009 @06:08PM (#30092490) Homepage
    Unfortunately, programmers aren't licensed and accountable like real engineers are.
  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @06:09PM (#30092498)

    Buffet routinely lobbied against the bailout legislation.

          Buffet is a smart man. And everyone was against the bailout legislation. Except of course those to be bailed out, and the Pelosi inspired politicians.

          I still remember the reports when it was first mentioned. "All my constituents aren't saying "No", they're saying "HELL NO!"". All that got swept under a pile of money however.

          It's curious for me that, living in Costa Rica, the US dollar has plummeted against our local currency - to the point where a can of Coke is now twice as expensive here versus in the US (due to local inflation continuing despite our currency appreciating against the dollar). I think soon US citizens won't be able to afford to travel outside the US. It's a real pain in the ass for me, because I earn in dollars, so I'm becoming relatively poorer too compared to my wife who earns in local currency. We're talking 10-15% poorer in the past 3 months alone. Running the money printing presses in the US has everything to do with this. But no one listened to Ludwig von Mises [] the first time, anyway.

  • by Korin43 ( 881732 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @06:16PM (#30092564) Homepage
    For some reason I don't think we need an extradition treaty with Afghanistan..
  • Re:interesting (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @06:28PM (#30092670)

    I was just talking to a project manager who left her job because of corruption she perceived. According to her, the company was providing specs for its programmers to implement modules that were NEVER intended to make it into the final product. None of the underlings could figure it out because none were permitted to see it how it all fits together. Why were they giving programmers work that would never be used? So the company could bill the client for more hours.

  • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @07:01PM (#30092960)

    "If you worked at a company that only made a 1% net profit, but invested in its people, its infrastructure and its goals, would that be worth it?
    It may be worth it to work there, but solely as a return on investment, no it is not "worth it". There are numerous other items that could be invested in (bonds, real estate, commodities) that offer far better that a 1% return with far lower risk."

    The point is that there are investments and investments. You surely can find places to invest you money and get better than 1% profit but... what money? Unless you are rich by birth it will be the money that you gain in excess to your living expenditures so since you must work somewhere, do you prefer to work for a company that invests in its people and still manage to make a net profit so it's sustainable or anywhere else?

  • by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Friday November 13, 2009 @07:03PM (#30092986) Homepage Journal

    Almost all of those have no treaty because they will hand someone over without question.

    Some will even imprison and get information for you, you kniow, becasue without a treaty there nthing from stopping them from torture.

  • by BJ_Covert_Action ( 1499847 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @07:23PM (#30093156) Homepage Journal
    Andorra: []

    After reading your post I was inspired to wikipedia Andorra. I am a US citizen. Now I want to move to Andorra. Thank you =)
  • by peragrin ( 659227 ) on Friday November 13, 2009 @07:28PM (#30093204)

    Apple gets 25-30% on it's computers.

    think about it. apple sells less computers but makes more money than dell.

    which company is doing things right as a business and which one is working hard for scraps?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:51PM (#30093826)

    Anyone with grad-level know-how in Information Theory knows that the banks aren't breaking the law. (Unless a swarm of GS mathematicians have pushed the field forward without letting me know).

    It's called Optimal Causal Analysis (a method of determining the most likely subsequent state from a series of previous states, without any knowledge of the underlying mechanism). In this case, you'd let it model a few thousand states, and propagate those states forward and backward in time a bit.

    Then you plant computers doing this right next to the exchange computers, because any predictions more than a few hundred milliseconds and the model is too complex for your computers.

    Viola! Super-fast trading using I-Theory. (The prof. teaching this has never graduated a PhD, because they all get recruited away from her veeeery quickly.)

  • by TheCarp ( 96830 ) <sjc@carpanet.PERIODnet minus punct> on Friday November 13, 2009 @08:55PM (#30093860) Homepage

    > Which brings to mind the issue that the sheer size of GS is the real issue, not the software that they use. Someone here once
    > said, "too big to fail? More like too big to be allowed to exist!" Everyone that received bail-out money should be broken into
    > smaller entities on a staggered basis when the economy recovers.

    As someone who loves to jump back and forth between realism and idealism, I have pointed out to a few friends that if a law were ever enacted that simply laid out a bright line for what "too big to fail" meant... and stated that the government would instantly assume control of ANY entity that fell under such criteria....

    Within a very short time frame, businesses would be built up around every institution making sure that they never come close to that and risk being taken over.

    In short, it would prevent such institutions from existing.


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 13, 2009 @09:16PM (#30094040)

    I think he really meant to say Classical Liberalism []

  • by donscarletti ( 569232 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @12:30AM (#30095036)

    You could probably survive China, Moldova or Vietnam.

    China is nice enough. However, in the case of China, if your country starts telling them that you stole billions of dollars, they're going to deport you for overstaying the visa that they just terminated. If your own country says "we want him back so we can kick his arse", then it is really not worth the effort for the Chinese government to argue with your government about a potential criminal they don't care about anyway. The US has sent Chinese embezzlers back to China, I'd imagine they would repay the favor. In fact, you'd have a very hard time finding a country that will knowingly take in a fugitive unless they can prove that they are a political refugee. Agreeing to repatriate suspects is an easy and popular way to get shady people out of your own country and keep the other country happy. You have never actually needed an extradition treaty to do it. Chinese law prohibits the extradition of Chinese citizens, which means that they will probably be tried by a local court instead, doubtfully a better outcome.

  • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday November 14, 2009 @01:30AM (#30095266) Homepage Journal

    That's like saying if you intend to stick your fingers in the meat grinder, you ought to keep something you can use as a tourniquet handy. It's true, in a completely useless way.

    These guys were helping with the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. The reason that Ponzi schemes are illegal is that *they are destined to collapse*. When you're helping run the biggest one ever, it's going to be the biggest crash and burn ever. Evading the consequences means moving as much cash as you can overseas, planning to change your identity, and getting the hell out of Dodge a *long* time before you think you might need to. And that's assuming you don't trip the money laundering detectors, which you certainly will.

    Madoff and these guys for a very, very brief time had a model nobody else had, and it depended on computation to do things faster than anybody else had ever tried to. But it didn't take long for other people to copy the general idea, Instead of patting themselves on the back for being so clever, pocketing the huge profits they made, then moving on to the next thing, they decided to *pretend* their advantage could go on forever. You have to think they were mentally ill on some level, because they *had* to have known they'd be caught. Somehow they must have had a need that went deeper than money, a need to be regarded as brilliant beyond ordinary mortals, if only for a limited time.

The intelligence of any discussion diminishes with the square of the number of participants. -- Adam Walinsky