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Madoff credit card bill shown to court

Associated Press / May 14, 2009
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NEW YORK - The credit card bill is a 30-page study in conspicuous consumption.

A quick scan shows a restaurant charge of more than $2,800, $2,000 in spending at a Parisian boutique, and $441 at a gourmet bagel shop. The total amount due: more than $100,000.

Eye-popping numbers aside, the American Express statement from January 2008 has taken on broader meaning because of the notorious name on the corporate account: Bernard L. Madoff.

And the vast majority of the charges aren't even his; they belong to his family and associates.

The bill is among a pile of exhibits filed recently in a Manhattan bankruptcy court by Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee who is dissecting Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme. Lawyers for the trustee claim in accompanying court papers that the credit card statement and other records prove Madoff's family used his clients' money to pay for homes, travel, fancy meals, and other personal expenses.

The admitted swindler treated Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities "as his personal bank account, taking funds when he needed them and transferring funds to other Madoff entities or family members when it suited his whim and purposes," the lawyers wrote.

Since the money was so intertwined, Picard has argued to a Manhattan bankruptcy judge that it would be more efficient to consolidate separate efforts to identify and liquidate Madoff's business and personal assets.