One Year Later, Still Shaking Our Heads at Bernie Madoff

The fallout from the scandal is still unfolding

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One year after Bernie Madoff admitted to masterminding the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, columnists say the fallout from the scandal is far from over. The $50 billion dollar scam bankrupted hundreds of investors, scores of charities, and sent shock-waves through the country. A look at the Madoff case, one year later.

  • Madoff's Life In Prison  The Wall Street Journal's Dionne Searcey describes a lifestyle vastly different than the one Madoff lived in New York. "Inmate No. 61727-054 shares an unlocked cell at the medium-security prison at Butner Federal Correctional Complex with a younger man named Frank," Searcey writes. "He wears khaki prison garb and has been spotted walking on an outdoor track. He plays bocce, chess and checkers. He scrubs pots and pans in the prison kitchen."
  • Prosecutors Have Bungled the Case  The Daily Beasts's Allan Dodds Frank says prosecutors have failed to build a case on Madoff's possible accomplices, including his family. 
On the first anniversary of Bernard Madoff’s arrest for stealing billions in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever, the prosecutors’ scorecard is close to blank—with just two people in jail and three more defendants awaiting their fates.None of those last three is named Madoff. For now, Madoff’s wife, Ruth, his sons, Mark and Andrew, his brother, Peter, and Peter’s daughter, Shana—all employees of his securities firm—have not been criminally charged.
  • The Monster Mensch  Bernie Madoff continues to be vilified as a face of Wall Street evil in a deep recession. In March, New York Magazine featured Madoff on its cover as The Joker. This cover was recently named the best cover of 2009 in news and business by the American Society of Magazine Editors.
  • Charities Are Still Reeling  The Associated Press's David Caruso reports that dozens of philanthropies around the world lost great sums of money, or in some cases entirely bankrupted, by the scheme. And the recession has not helped. He reports:

'It has been a very difficult year,' said Richard Gordon, president of the American Jewish Congress, which saw a $21 million trust left to it by philanthropists Lillian and Martin Steinberg vanish in the fraud. 'Like anything else, you go through anger and outrage, and over the year, I think you work through some of the issues. But there is a tremendous sense of loss of what you could have done.'

  • Madoff's Secrets Are Still Safe  The Village Voices Ward Harkavy says "we still don't know exactly how he pulled it off for so long and which big shots were in it with him." And unfortunately, Harkavy says it doesn't look like the world isn't about to find out anytime soon. "Looks like the biggest secrets are still at the bottom of the Palm Beach pool where Madoff crony Jeffry Picower, carrying the burden of a $7.2 billion federal suit against him, was found dead in October," Harkavy writes.
  • Most Victims Denied Money  Bloomberg's Erik Larson reports that "most of the people who say they lost money with Bernard Madoff have had their claims denied because they invested with the con man indirectly or withdrew more money than they put in."
  • The Search For Money Will Take Years  At The Financial Times, Joanna Chung says Madoff may have funds stashed in secret hiding places around the world. "The search for money is likely to take years," she said. "In recent court documents, Mr Picard said a complex web of tangled investment structures fed money to the Ponzi scheme. In the British Virgin Islands alone, he has found no fewer than 20 feeder funds. So far, Mr Picard has recovered about $1.5bn for investors and the money returned to them amounts to only a fraction of the $4.7bn in claims he has agreed to consider."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.