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Prosecutors seek harsher sentences for Madoff aides

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NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. prosecutors plan to ask an appeals court to review the prison sentences given to five former employees of Bernard Madoff, after earlier questioning whether the sentences were too short, according to court filings.

In filings late on Friday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, prosecutors gave notice that they would be appealing the sentences to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York but did not elaborate further.

One of the five former employees, former portfolio manager JoAnn Crupi, filed a separate notice that she planned to appeal her conviction and her sentence.

A prosecutor urged Judge Laura Taylor Swain in court last month to avoid issuing light sentences for the Madoff defendants so as not to set a precedent for unrelated fraud cases.

“Judges will have to explain how small-time crooks in front of them were worse than the defendants in this case,” said Matthew Schwartz, an assistant U.S. attorney.

Prosecutors said the five employees helped Madoff bilk investors of billions of dollars in his massive Ponzi scheme by creating fake documents and backdating trades.

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A jury in Manhattan convicted them in March 2014, and Swain sentenced them last month.

Former back office director Daniel Bonventre received 10 years in prison; portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno, six years; computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, 2-1/2 years each; and Crupi, six years.

The government had requested more than 20 years for Bonventre and Bongiorno, more than eight for O’Hara and Perez and more than 14 for Crupi.

A lawyer for one of them defended the judge’s decisions and called her a “courageous jurist.”

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“Judge Swain’s sentences were handed down following her painstaking review of the record and her conscientious consideration of all of the appropriate sentencing factors,” Larry Krantz, who represents Perez, said in an email to Reuters on Saturday.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment on Saturday. Attorneys for the four other former employees did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison term in North Carolina after pleading guilty in 2009 to running a scheme that cost investors an estimated $17 billion or more in principal.

(Reporting by David Ingram, Nate Raymond and Joseph Ax; editing by Andrew Hay)

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‘Call the mall cops!’ Roy Moore roasted after saying he’ll make ‘more personal contact with people’ in Senate run

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Roy Moore, the far-right politician who infamously lost an Alabama Senate race in 2017 after allegations emerged about him molesting teenage girls, announced on Thursday that he was going to once again run for office in 2020.

While touting his potential rematch with Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL), Moore was asked by a reporter what he will do differently this time around.

"I would like to make more personal contact with people," Moore responded.

Given that Moore's history of "personal contact" with underage women was what cost him the 2017 Senate race -- and even allegedly got him banned from a shopping mall that grew weary of his regular efforts to pick up teen girls -- Moore was quickly buried in ridicule on Twitter.

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Trump ‘lit his own house on fire’ by pulling out of Iran nuclear deal: International relations expert

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Kelly Magsamen, the VP of National Security and International Policy for the Center for American Progress explained during an MSNBC interview Thursday that the president is causing his own problems with Iran.

Speaking to host Ali Velshi, Magsamen said that it was Trump who "lit his own house on fire" when he breached the Iran treaty known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

"I think we are definitely in the middle of an escalatory (sic) cycle, and how do we get out of it," Magsamen told the host. "And unfortunately, the White House has left itself very few options in terms of escalating or de-escalating and same for the Iranians, frankly. [The Iranians] probably perceive this as an attack from their perspective."

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Former Marco Rubio adviser slams the senators’ humiliating transformation into a ‘Trump fan-boy’

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Max Boot is well known as a conservative anti-Trump columnist for the Washington Post, but he was also a foreign policy adviser for Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio’s 2016 presidential campaign. And in a new piece on Thursday, Boot revealed just how depressing he finds Rubio’s “humiliating transformation into a Trump fan-boy.”

Rubio’s support for the president came under new scrutiny this week after he appeared at Donald Trump’s recent rally in Orlando and tweeted an enthusiastic endorsement:

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