In 1968, starting pitcher Bob Gibson of the St. Louis Cardinals finished the regular season with an astonishing 1.12 Earned Run Average. His devastating performance was a catalyst in the league’s decision, during the offseason, to drastically lower the height of the pitcher’s mound from 15 inches to 10 inches, so as to lessen the advantage of the pitcher over the hitter. In this sense, Gibson literally changed the playing field of his sport.
Bernard Madoff can be compared to Bob Gibson in that he likewise made a singular contribution to altering the landscape of his chosen playing field, securities fraud. Since Madoff’s conviction in early 2009, the number of SEC indictments for those engaged in Ponzi or “Ponzi-like” schemes has nearly doubled. In a litigation release issued yesterday, the SEC announced it had brought charges against a group of defendants involved in a Ponzi scheme aimed at members of the Haitian-American community in South Florida. That brought the total number of such releases, by our quick count, to 41 already this year — surpassing the total number in any single calendar year since 2004. Any year that is except for last year, when in the wake of the Madoff conviction 86 Ponzi-related releases were issued.