- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009

NEW YORK (Reuters) | Lawyers for jailed swindler Bernard Madoff argued for his release pending sentencing, and a list of assets put his and his wife’s net worth between $823 million and $826 million, according to court papers filed Friday.

Madoff, 70, was jailed Thursday after pleading guilty to running the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street history, drawing in as much as $65 billion over 20 years.

His sentencing on 11 criminal charges is scheduled for June 16, when he could be imprisoned for the rest of his life. But before then, a three-judge panel in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York will hear oral arguments Thursday on two bail motions by Madoff’s lawyers.

Court papers filed Friday revealed the list of assets that Madoff provided Dec. 31 to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought civil charges against the former Nasdaq Stock Market chairman.

The net value of Madoff’s ownership in his business, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was $700 million, according to the list. It put the net worth of Bernard Madoff and Ruth Madoff at between $823 million and $826 million.

Madoff’s lawyer declined comment on the asset list, as did Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Mrs. Madoff.

Most of the assets listed were in Mrs. Madoff’s name. Properties in Manhattan; Palm Beach, Fla.; Antibes and France amounting to $19 million are in her name. The couple owned a $3 million property on New York’s Long Island.

In a court filing in early March, their lawyers said $69 million in property and accounts belonged to her and was unrelated to the fraud, including the $7 million apartment where he was held under house arrest until Thursday.

Madoff’s business and personal assets were frozen following his Dec. 11 arrest. A court-appointed trustee winding down the firm said last month that he recovered about $946.4 million for former customers.

The asset list confirmed some of the properties and valuables such as jewelry and cars owned by the Madoffs, who have been married for nearly 50 years. A yacht called “Bull” in France valued at $7 million is in Mrs. Madoff’s name. A Rybovich fishing boat, also called “Bull” in Palm Beach valued at $2.2 million belonged to Madoff.

In summary, the list shows $22 million in real estate, $17 million in cash at Wachovia bank in Mrs. Madoff’s name and almost $10 million in furniture, goods and fine art spread across residences and the office. A Steinway piano in their $7 million New York apartment is valued at $39,000 and, also in her name, is $65,000 in silverware, according to the list.

Madoff’s new surroundings in a small cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan across the street from the federal courthouse where he pleaded guilty, is a far cry from the opulent lifestyle reflected in the asset list.

In the appeal, one motion aims to suspend an order made at Thursday’s plea proceeding by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to revoke Madoff’s $10 million bail. The panel also will hear a motion from the lawyers to reinstate his bail conditions.

“The District Court erroneously failed to release Mr. Madoff because the evidence clearly shows that Mr. Madoff is not a flight risk and does not pose a threat to the community,” a court document said.

It said Madoff does not have the means to flee. The lawyers also argued Madoff needs to be released so that he could contribute to resolving a dispute over restitution and/or forfeiture. “Mr. Madoff’s contribution to this effort will be severely hampered, if not altogether eliminated, if he is remanded,” the lawyers said in the filing.

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