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US seeks Madoffs' Cohmad funds

By Beth Healy
Globe Staff / March 17, 2009
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The US attorney in New York is looking to seize more than $100 million in assets of disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff, including his interest in Cohmad Securities Corp. and any interest that his wife, Ruth, might have, according to a court filing.

The filing, made yesterday in US District Court in Manhattan, says the property is subject to forfeiture because of Madoff's guilty plea last week. He is being held pending his June sentencing; he is expected to spend the rest of his life in prison.

According to the filing, the government is looking to seize "any and all interest in Cohmad Securities Corp.," a brokerage based in New York that for many years had a Boston office. Cohmad employs Robert Jaffe, a broker who lives in Weston and Palm Beach, Fla., who introduced many investors to the Madoff funds. Jaffe maintains that he did not know Madoff was running a Ponzi scheme that may have claimed up to $65 billion in assets; Jaffe says he and his family also were victims of the crime.

The US also is looking to seize securities, funds, and other property that Ruth Madoff held in an account at Cohmad Securities, including municipal bonds valued at about $45 million.

Ruth Madoff withdrew $15.5 million from her Cohmad account in the three weeks before her husband's Dec. 11 arrest, according to a complaint filed by Massachusetts Secretary of State William F. Galvin last month against Cohmad.

Cohmad's lawyer declined to comment and Madoff's lawyer did not respond to a request for comment.

The US attorney also is looking to seize $17 million in a Wachovia Bank account held by Ruth Madoff, as well as the Madoffs' East 64th Street co-op, and their properties in Montauk, N.Y.; Palm Beach, Fla.; and in Cap d'Antibes, France. Also on the forfeiture list are two fishing boats owned by Ruth Madoff and two yachts. Four cars also are on the list, including a BMW and two Mercedes. The government also is looking to seize a $39,000 Steinway piano and Ruth Madoff's silver, valued at $65,000.

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