The Top Five Heaviest White-Collar Crime Prison Sentences

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The distinction of the longest prison sentence handed down for a white-collar crime conviction goes to Sholam Weiss who in 2000, was sentenced to 845 years in prison

When Bernie Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for his Ponzi scheme that resulted in losses of more than $65 billion, he was only the latest in a long line of white-collar criminals who have been sentenced to hefty prison terms that effectively damned them to death behind bars. Most Americans after hearing about Madoff’s sentence could have been forgiven for thinking that this was the longest white-collar crime prison sentence handed down to a convict. Actually, Madoff’s sentence was not even the second or third longest prison sentence for a white-collar crime.

The distinction of the longest prison sentence handed down for a white-collar crime conviction goes to Sholam Weiss who in 2000, was sentenced to 845 years in prison, for his role in the $450 million National Heritage Life Insurance fraud that brought down the company. His release date is scheduled for November 2000 754.

Weiss’ co-defendant Keith Pound was also handed down a sentence of 740 years, but ended up serving only four of those years. He died in jail at the age of 51.

73-year-old Norman Schmidt was given a 330- year prison sentence after he was convicted of his role in an investment fraud which resulted in money coming in from investors, being siphoned off to buy NASCAR race cars, and even a racetrack.

Robert Thompson was sentenced to 309 years in prison after being convicted of wire fraud. Madoff is actually the last name on this list.

Such long sentences for white-collar criminals used to be fairly rare earlier, but since the financial crisis, and the role of Wall Street firms in the collapse of the economy came to light, there has been a public appetite for longer criminal sentences for persons convicted of accounting fraud, investment and securities fraud, and insurance and mortgage fraud.

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