THE DRESDEN FILES Reading Challenge

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Friday, October 28, 2011


I want to warn y'all that this is not going to be a comfortable column to read. I also want to warn you that there are quite a few nasty words in this particular column. This is not the column that I set out to write (was going to put up another episode of WEASELS ON PARADE, which I will get done later on today). So, consider yourselves warned.

I’ve been watching teasers for the BIIIIIIIIIIIIG interview with Ruth Madoff on 60 Minutes this weekend, and I am not impressed. NOT AT ALL. Acutally, I'm nauseated.

Poor, POOR Ruth Madoff. Gosh, what a terrible life she’s now leading. Friends are lending her a place to stay in Boca Raton, with one telling People: “She lives very frugally. She spends virtually nothing.” Gee, from mensch to mooch in one fell swoop. These friends of hers must not have invested with her husband, wouldn’t you agree? Her effort to claim $70 million of her husband’s fortune was rejected. The Madoffs’ Manhattan penthouse and most of their belongings, the home in Palm Beach, Fla., and the yacht docked nearby – virtually everything – were seized and sold.

Ruth Madoff had been visiting her husband in prison regularly. That is, until their son, Mark, killed himself in December of last year. Now friends tell People Magazine that she’s cut off all contact with Bernie and quote her as saying “at night it gets to me, the shame, the disgrace, all the stuff that killed Mark.” People Magazine is reporting a source close to Ruth Madoff as saying “she’s come to accept she is carrying the burden of shame and disgrace. She knows she is wearing a scarlet letter.” The magazine reports Ruth Madoff has died her hair red, and often uses her maiden name (Alpern) while trying to keep a low profile in south Florida. People Magazine says she drives a 14-year-old car, and her idea of splurging is to rent a DVD for a dollar from a kiosk at a Publix grocery store.

Excuse me if I don’t have just a whole lot of sympathy for this atrocious woman.

Now, she’s going to be whining on 60 Minutes about the time that she tried to commit suicide, and oh, dear, whatEVER is she going to do? Her schtick is that she and her husband attempted suicide as public outrage mounted over Bernard Madoff's infamous $50 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest in U.S. history.

In an interview with CBS's 60 Minutes set to be broadcast on Sunday, Ruth Madoff said she and her husband attempted to overdose on a combination of pills including the sleep aid Ambien. "I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," she said, according to a partial transcript from CBS. "We had terrible phone calls. Hate mail, just beyond anything and I said' ... I just can't go on anymore.'" "I took what we had, he took more," she added. "We took pills and woke up the next day ... It was very impulsive and I am glad we woke up."

Following her husband's sentencing in 2008, Ruth Madoff said in a statement that she was "embarrassed and ashamed" of her husband's actions. "The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years," she said.

Again, I do not believe for one single instant that Mrs. Madoff didn’t know what was going on. Bloomberg News reported back in March of this year that Ruth Madoff’s account at Bank of New York Mellon Corp. received “fraudulent” transfers of at least $14 million. Irving Picard, the trustee, said last week that he had asked the bank for the couple’s monthly bank statements, canceled checks and other records from January 2002 through December 2008. Bank of New York had no objection to providing them, he said in the March 10 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. Money going into Ruth Madoff’s personal bank account came from the imprisoned fraudster’s companies, which received nothing in return, Picard said in previous filings. When Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008, the funds became the property of his customers, Picard said in his 2009 lawsuit against Ruth Madoff.

I’m all for a willing suspension of disbelief regarding the familial victims in a case like this one – up to a point, that is – and the foregoing wouldn’t strain the credulity of a dead elephant. And it gets worse:

Picard said in the 2009 suit he wanted to reclaim for investors Ruth Madoff’s $44.8 million profit from the fraud. In February, she was named in Picard’s $1 billion suit against the Mets baseball team owners. Ruth and her family invested $12 million of “other people’s money” in Sterling Equities Inc. entities, which Picard said he wants back. The Madoffs, who often invited the families of Saul Katz and Fred Wilpon, partners in Sterling Equities, to family celebrations, cocktail parties and dinners, used funds from the Madoff brokerage for their own benefit in making investments in Sterling entities, Picard said in the Feb. 4 lawsuit.

"She was her husband's bookkeeper for all those years, and we wonder why she has not been prosecuted for all this," said Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, a Madoff victim who works as an advocate for other victims. Through her lawyers, Mrs. Madoff has denied any knowledge of her husband's fraud scheme. In a written statement on the day of her husband's sentencing, she said, "to say that I feel devastated for the many whom my husband has destroyed is truly inadequate.”

Ruth Madoff should really sit down with Linda Lay, Ken’s Lay’s widow, and learn about just how little people who have been hurt in financial shenanigans care about the whinings of the wives involved. In January of 2002, Linda Lay was on NBC's "Today" show tearfully saying her family was near bankruptcy. Now dry-eyed since the sale of several luxury vacation homes in Aspen, Colo. (a cottage went for $10 million), and another in Galveston, Texas, she is working with her daughter, Robin, on selling family castoffs--pre-owned furniture. "Linda decided it didn't make sense to keep it all," said family spokeswoman Kelly Kimberly. "It was just stuff, and someone else might have a use for it."

Security was very, VERY tight while the shop was being readied for business, with a police officer in a marked police cruiser in the parking lot 100% of the time, 24/7. "If I were the Lays, I'd be afraid and call the police, too," said a shop owner down the street. "I think it's terrible what they did to those people at Enron. I'll be surprised if anybody buys their things, though you always have people who want a souvenir of a tragedy."

The shop had a grand 2 weeks’ worth of people shopping, and made right at 150K. The beginning of the second week, about 20 former Enron employees set up a protest with signs across the street. And, of course, sales dropped and dropped and dropped, and the shop went out of business approximately 6 weeks into its run. The ultra-rich, which Mrs. Lay was counting on to buy her cast-offs (most of which were reproduction antiques, and not particularly well done at that), were understandably squeamish about being watched and commented on. One day, when the former employees showed up to picket the shop from across the street, the parking lot was empty, the cop car wasn’t there and the shop was completely empty.

Mrs. Lay was on television several times, whining about how AWFUL it was that she couldn’t make a living, whining about how she was having a hard time living on just 25K a month from her Enron annuities, and how unfair it was that everybody was against her, poor widow-woman, and how hateful the have-nots and the former employees were, and yap yap yap. Last whine was when she closed the shop, literally in the dead of night, and ran away with her fake stuff. PARDON me, her "reproduction antiques".

Mrs. Madoff really, REALLY should just shut the fuck up. Nobody except her creditors gives a casual damn about how awful her life is now. Since she’s got an annuity herself, she’s not doing all that badly, particularly since she’s living rent and utility-free in a gated condo complex, in a 10,000 square foot condo.

Yeah, I know what y’all are saying as you read this: “Girl, where’s your compassion? These two women are collateral damage, and didn’t know what was going on!” I’ve got one comment to make about that nonsense: BULLSHIT. They both knew what was going on, because both of them were intimately involved with the two Ponzi schemes.
I will reserve my compassion for all the folks that lost most if not all of their money in the Enron collapse and the Madoff Ponzi schemes. I will reserve my compassion for Mark Madoff, who couldn’t take all of the crap that his father’s lies and financial peculations caused him, and who was basically innocent of anything except not knowing what his father was up to – unlike the other 2 boys, who worked for the company. I will reserve my compassion for Stephanie Madoff Mack, who is the widow of a suicide.

As I said before, Ruth Madoff needs to shut the fuck up, and make sure that she keeps her unsanitary yap shut. She enjoyed the fruits of her husband’s stealing for over 20 years. She hasn’t been prosecuted, and she should be grateful for that, not spiteful and whiney.

Boo fucking hoo, Mrs. Madoff.