September 9, 2009 / 11:01 PM / 10 years ago

Madoff judge to be nominated to appeals court

NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin, who sentenced swindler Bernard Madoff to 150 years in prison, will be nominated for an appeals court seat, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer said on Wednesday.

There are four vacancies on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York, the court where U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor served until she was sworn in to the high court on August 8. A fifth vacancy to the appeals court in New York is expected to open in October.

“We told the White House that Judge Chin would be an outstanding choice for elevation to the Court of Appeals,” Schumer, a Democrat from New York, said in a statement. “Even in the most high-profile of cases, he has been unflappable, erudite and steadily applied the law.”

A clerk said the judge would not comment.

The case of the former Wall Street trader and investment adviser Madoff, who orchestrated a fraud of as much as $65 billion over two decades, was one of the biggest to land in Chin’s courtroom in Manhattan.

Chin, born in Hong Kong and the first Asian-American federal judge outside of California and Hawaii, calmly took Madoff’s guilty plea in front of irate investors in March.

Three months later, he handed Madoff consecutive sentences on 11 criminal charges including securities fraud, money laundering and perjury that added up to 150 years.

He called Madoff’s crimes “extraordinarily evil” for financially ruining thousands of investors as he operated Wall Street’s biggest investment fraud.

Chin is known in the legal community as even-tempered, fair, witty and unafraid to make tough decisions. He was 39 when tapped by former President Bill Clinton in 1994 for a judgeship in Manhattan federal court, one of the busiest U.S. courthouses with cases ranging from terrorism trials to celebrity disputes to white-collar crime.

Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Toni Reinhold

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