DOJ says Bernie Madoff victims are finally about to be compensated


Nearly nine years after former Nasdaq chair Bernie Madoff was arrested for running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, his victims may finally start receiving compensation within the next few months.

More than $4 billion sits in a fund created in 2012 to repay Madoff’s victims in one of the biggest fraud cases ever. The fund consists of $2.4 billion from the estate of one of his Madoff’s largest investors, the late Jeffry Picower, as well as $1.7 billion from a 2014 forfeiture deal with Madoff’s bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co.

The Department of Justice says that the special master hired to review the petitions filed by the victims, Richard Breeden, has now completed his work in evaluating those applications. All told, Breeden evaluated over 65,000 petitions from victims in 136 countries, and approved 35,000 petitions.

“The Department recently notified victims whose petitions have been approved and is poised to issue initial distributions from the Assets Forfeiture Funds by the end of 2017,” Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd writes in a letter to Congressman Vern Buchanan. In May, the Sarasota Republican had contacted Attorney General Jeff Sessions, urging him to expedite payments for those Madoff defrauded.

“These victims, many of whom are from Sarasota and Southwest Florida, were cheated out of their security and life savings,” Buchanan said in a statement Wednesday, noting the Ponzi scheme also affected charities and retirement funds for police and firefighters. “I’m pleased the Justice Department is finally taking action to help these victims, but it should have happened much sooner.”

Florida is home to the second-largest number of Madoff victims after New York, where the investment company was based. As reported by the Miami Herald, according to Madoff’s client list, nearly one in five of his customers hailed from Florida.

The highest concentration of Madoff victims was in South Florida. In Miami-Dade County, there were 251 victims. Palm Beach County was second most with 1,183; Broward County had 311 victims.

The Justice Department says that the initial distributions from the Assets Forfeiture Fund will represent the largest in the history of the fund.

In his letter to Sessions back in May, Buchanan noted that while Madoff’s victims had yet to receive a penny in compensation, Breeden’s company had been paid $39 million.

Madoff surrendered in December 2008. The former Nasdaq chairman was sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 after he pleaded guilty to fraud charges and admitted he had used funds from some investors to pay others — all while living a life of luxury.


Mitch Perry

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at [email protected].

One comment

  • Not Really Victims

    September 20, 2017 at 12:21 pm

    Unquestionably, Madoff is a dirtbag. But at the risk of being called a proponent of “blaming the victim”, many of the investors saw dollar signs in their eyes from the returns that they were promised. Really, it doesn’t take a genius to see signs of a con when the promised ROI was so disproportionate to the risk and to anything else that the market then offered. I guess the adage is true about who gets slaughtered. They’re not victims. They were just greedy.

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