Should Madoff get 12 years or 150?

Remember Bernie Madoff? He's the little fellow who ran a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Last week the government demanded he pay $170 billion -- which I gather is the amount that prosecutors believe Madoff stole. But with Madoff and his wife forking over $80 million, it's unclear why they aren't giving the government their other $743 million. Nevertheless, compared to what prosecutors demand, Madoff's stake is small potatoes. To collect a bigger chunk of that $170 billion, the U.S. ought to look at the Madoff Eight -- including Jeffry Picower and his alleged $5.1 billion take -- six times that of Madoff.

Meanwhile, 10 Madoff victims will give their sob stories to a court in Manhattan and a judge will decide how many years behind bars Madoff will get. His lawyers argue that given the 71-year-old Madoff's life expectancy, he ought to get 12 years, which would give him a year to live free, assuming he does not get shanked in prison. Then there are those who demand 150 years -- but assuming he can't stay alive that long, it is unclear what happens to the unserved portion of his prison term.