Prosecutors seek money from wife of Madoff, too

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NEW YORK -- Bernard Madoff's wife could theoretically claim more than $100 million in assets -- and should forfeit it all, according to federal prosecutors.

The move by prosecutors seeks the court's help in recovering $22 million in Madoff properties, all of which are solely in Ruth Madoff's name except for one $3 million property. It also seeks $62 million in cash and securities in her name, $10 million in furnishings in the properties and $10 million for a yacht and other boats.

Madoff, 70, traded his $7 million Manhattan penthouse for a federal lockup Thursday, immediately after he described how he created a two-decade Ponzi scheme that paid off early investors with proceeds from new investors.

Investors have reacted angrily to previous defense claims that Ruth Madoff is entitled to keep $69 million in assets that are in her name.

Authorities say Madoff notified his 4,800 investors in November that they had nearly $65 billion in assets when there actually was about $1 billion left. He could face up to 150 years in prison when he is sentenced in June.

The assets that the government hopes to seize include four properties, $10 million in home furnishings and a $7 million yacht in France. The court document did not mention $2.6 million in jewelry, but the government did say it would seek forfeiture of "all insured and readily salable personal property" in any of the Madoff properties.

Prosecutors also are seeking the forfeiture of a $39,000 Steinway piano and a $65,000 silverware set kept in the Manhattan penthouse.

Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Mrs. Madoff, declined to comment.

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