The Women Of Bernie Madoff

Stephanie Morgan Madoff

The Daily Beast

From dejected wives to scorned mistresses, tough prosecutors to co-conspirators, women dominate the Ponzi king case. Allan Dodds Frank explains who was who in 2010—and what happens next.

Meet Bernie’s Women →
This post originally appeared at The Daily Beast.

Ruth Madoff

For Ruth Madoff, misery marked 2010. On December 11, the second anniversary of the arrest of her husband, their elder son Mark hanged himself, leaving behind a wife, an ex-wife and two children by each woman. Her other son, Andrew, 44, hasn't talked to her at all in the last two years.

Ruth, according to several news reports, was spending a fair amount of time in Florida staying with her brother-in-law Peter Madoff in Palm Beach or with her sister Joan Roman and husband Robert in Boca Raton. Ruth was spotted driving a 14-year-old Infiniti, which she uses to deliver hot meals to homebound elderly people.

In 2010, federal marshals auctioned what was left of the couple's worldly possessions, including Bernie's underwear, after earlier sales of the couple's New York City penthouse, Montauk beachfront home, Palm Beach estate and French condo. As part of a deal that kept her out of jail, Ruth surrendered more than $45 million and was allowed to keep $2.5 million, an amount that still angered Madoff victims, but after legal expenses, left her with practically nothing.

Shana Madoff Swanson

Once a Girl Scout Brownie and a Fordham Law grad, Bernie Madoff's 40-year-old niece has the lowest public profile of the immediate family members. Still, she remains exposed to possible criminal charges, since she collected millions from the family businesses, partly owned by her father, Peter.

As a senior compliance officer at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, she signed numerous documents assuring the SEC and other regulators that the firm was on the up-and-up. A civil complaint filed by Irving Picard, the Madoff bankruptcy trustee, against her, her father, Andrew and Mark Madoff and the Madoff family grandchildren seeks to recover $200 million they collected from the criminal enterprise. Shana and her cousins also used millions to fund family investments in biotech and alternate energy companies. Her only lucky note: The SEC determined that her romance and subsequent marriage to former SEC enforcement lawyer Eric Swanson had nothing to do with the agency's missing the Madoff scam.

Stephanie Madoff Morgan

Even before her 46-year-old husband Mark hanged himself with a dog leash while his 2-year-old son Nicholas slept in a nearby bedroom, Stephanie was having difficulty coping with the enormity of being part of a family linked to the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.

Vacationing at Disney World in Florida with her 4-year-old daughter Audrey, Stephanie began receiving desperate emails from her husband. Alarmed, she called her stepfather Martin London, who discovered Mark dead in the couple's Soho apartment and called police. In a statement, she said she loved Mark 'forever,' adding: 'I am devastated and now raising two small children alone.' Earlier in the year, she had petitioned a judge to change her last name and the children's from Madoff to Morgan. In effect, she inherits the lawsuit by the Madoff bankruptcy trustee who is seeking to recover millions from her late husband's estate and his children's trusts.

Sandra Manske

Connecticut-based Sandra Manske ran two hedge funds--MAXAM Capital Management and one she sold to Mass Mutual, Tremont Capital Management--that specialised in investing in Bernard Madoff. Those investors lost more than $3 billion. She also was a director of Kingate Global Fund, a British Virgin Island firm that may have lost another $3 billion with Madoff. Not surprisingly, neither investigators nor investors believe Manske, now 62, was the victim she portrayed herself to be in an interview she gave in early 2009 to Frontline's Martin Smith. Even better, just three weeks before Madoff was caught, the New York Post and Bloomberg News reported Manske sent a letter to 500 wealthy investors urging the foundation of an investors' protection group she called: 'Hedge Fund Investors United Forum.' Manske and her companies are being sued by Madoff bankruptcy trustee Irving Picard.

Annette Bongiorno

The only Madoff-affiliated woman currently in jail, Bongiorno faces 75 years in prison as a key accomplice in the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Now 62, she was hired 42 years ago out of a Queens, New York, high school to be Bernie Madoff's secretary--and made more than $14 million as his trusted assistant, collecting stock quotes and other data used to fabricate thousands of fake trading documents and statements sent to Madoff investors.

By 1995, she had partially retired with her husband Rudy to Boca Raton, Florida, where they lived in a $1.5 million country club estate home when not at home in their $2.6 million Manhasset, Long Island, mansion. They drove his-and-her Mercedes when not cruising around in her Bentley.

Either unable or unwilling to post $5 million bail, Bongiorno now is being held by the U.S. Marshals Service in Florida pending an appeal that may not be heard until mid-January at the earliest.

Sheryl Weinstein

Sheryl Weinstein was a certified public accountant and chief financial officer for Hadassah, a Jewish women's charity that invested with Madoff, when she met Bernie and became his mistress. She even got her son a job as an intern at Madoff's firm. Most important, Weinstein, a Wharton graduate, managed to lose all her money investing with him, as well as money that belonged to her husband Ronald and his relatives. To get revenge for the affair, and try to recoup some of the losses, Weinstein wrote Madoff's Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me for St. Martin's Press. The big news in her book: Bernie was not big in the penis department. Weinstein and her husband say they were forced to sell their East 72nd Street apartment. Ronald Weinstein tells The Daily Beast that the couple remains together: 'We are moving on with our lives,' he says.

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