It’s perfectly clear to anyone with even a bit of sense that Bernie Madoff didn’t act alone. Not only must he have enlisted others to help him perpetrate his fraud, he must have let on that he was conducting a huge fraud. The size and complexity of his scam is just too much for one man.
So far, members of the Madoff family have apparently maintained that they were unaware that Madoff was running a ponzi scheme. His brother, his sons, his neice–they all claim that despite working side by side with Bernie, they never detected a thing until this past December. But what about Ruthie Madoff, Bernie’s high school sweetheart? Could she really have been in the dark for decades?
Was Mrs. Madoff really blindsided? In the social circles where the couple once traveled, both possibilities are unnerving — that Ruth Madoff was in on this, or that she wasn’t. If she isn’t a confederate, after all, then she arguably should be counted among Bernard Madoff’s victims. Either way, wittingly or not, she was an essential asset to her husband, humanising him and drawing people into his orbit.
“All I will say on the subject is that it’s hard to imagine that she could live with the guy for 50 years and have no inkling,” says Donald Rosenzweig, a childhood friend of Ruth’s and an investor in Madoff Investment Securities. “Could she attract people to him? Yes. Was she out there shilling for him? I doubt it. But maybe.”
Federal prosecutors have not charged Mrs. Madoff with any crimes, and though she is currently living with her husband, who is under house arrest in their Upper East Side penthouse, she can come and go as she pleases. She has surrendered her passport and agreed to a deal with the United States attorney’s office that freezes her assets and grants her an undisclosed monthly allowance for living expenses, the cost of security for the couple and legal fees. The conditions of bail for Mr. Madoff include a $10 million bond secured by homes in Mrs. Madoff’s name.