|Wife feels ‘ashamed, confused’|
|US fraudster Bernard Madoff sentenced to 150 years jail. Wife speaks out after months of silence|
|SHE’S been hounded by news photographers, vilified by former clients of her husband and ostracised in high society.|
|02 July 2009|
|SHE’S been hounded by news photographers, vilified by former clients of her husband and ostracised in high society.
She’s also kept quiet for months – until Monday.
Mrs Ruth Madoff – memorably christened ‘The Loneliest Woman in New York’ in a recent New York Times headline – finally spoke out after her notorious husband got a 150-year sentence that makes certain she’ll never see him again outside of prison.
Bernard Madoff was charged for perpetrating Wall Street’s biggest and most brazen investment fraud – losses estimated to reach US$65 billion ($94b).
Mrs Madoff said in a statement issued through her lawyer: ‘I am breaking my silence now, because my reluctance to speak has been interpreted as indifference or lack of sympathy for the victims of my husband Bernie’s crime, which is exactly the opposite of the truth.’
Prosecutors say her husband’s multibillion-dollar pyramid scheme wiped out clients of his investment advisory firm while bankrolling an extravagant lifestyle for his family, including country estates, a yacht and international travel.
Mrs Madoff, 68, hasn’t been charged with a crime. But a judge’s forfeiture order has stripped her of US$80 million in assets including a penthouse apartment where she still lives.
That’s left her with $2.5m that couldn’t be linked to the fraud.
Since her husband’s arrest late last year, negative publicity casting the Madoffs as soulless symbols of greed and excess has made her persona non grata at her regular hair salon, florist and favourite high-end eateries on the Upper East Side, the New York Times reported.
Her husband of nearly 50 years came to her defence while addressing the court on Monday, saying she ‘cries herself to sleep every night knowing of all the pain and suffering I have caused, and I am tormented by that as well’.
Mrs Madoff, though not at the courthouse, later expressed her own sympathy for the victims.
She said: ‘From the moment I learned from my husband that he had committed an enormous fraud, I have had two thoughts – first, that so many people who trusted him would be ruined financially and emotionally, and second, that my life with the man I have known for over 50 years was over.
‘Many of my husband’s investors were my close friends and family,’ she said.
‘And in the days since December, I have read, with immense pain, the wrenching stories of people whose life savings have evaporated because of his crime.’
The statement didn’t overtly condemn her husband, nor address the couple’s future. But she suggested she identified with his victims who were blindsided by his dark side.
She said: ‘Lives have been upended and futures have been taken away. All those touched by this fraud feel betrayed; disbelieving the nightmare they woke to.
‘I am embarrassed and ashamed. Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused. The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.’
Empathising with the victims, she said that ‘if it matters to them at all’, not a day goes by when she doesn’t ache over the stories that she has heard and read.