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US marshals seize Madoff NYC penthouse

Financier’s wife is forced to move from $7m home

US Marshal Roland Ubaldo (right) spoke to the media outside the apartment building of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff in New York City yesterday. Marshals said that Madoff’s wife, Ruth, had moved to an undisclosed location. US Marshal Roland Ubaldo (right) spoke to the media outside the apartment building of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff in New York City yesterday. Marshals said that Madoff’s wife, Ruth, had moved to an undisclosed location. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)
By Larry Neumeister
Associated Press / July 3, 2009
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NEW YORK - Federal marshals seized disgraced financier Bernard Madoff’s $7 million Manhattan penthouse yesterday and forced his wife to move out and leave her possessions behind, including a fur coat she asked to take with her, an official told the Associated Press.

Proceeds from a sale of the property and its contents could be used to help reimburse those who lost billions of dollars investing with Madoff before he confessed to running a Ponzi scheme.

US Marshal Joseph Guccione said the marshals arrived at the property at noon with a court order permitting them to take custody of the apartment and to make anyone living there move out.

Guccione said Madoff’s wife, Ruth, had been advised in advance of the marshals’ plans and was leaving the residence and surrendering all personal property.

“She will be leaving,’’ he said at midday. “Restitution for the victims is the government’s top priority.’’

Typically, the US Marshals Service changes all locks and secures a property when it seizes a location.

By about 1 p.m., the 67-year-old Ruth Madoff had left. It was not immediately clear where she went to live.

Ruth Madoff first argued with marshals who came to the apartment and asked to stay, then asked if she could take a fur coat with her, a federal official informed of Ruth Madoff’s departure told the AP. The official wasn’t authorized to discuss details of her encounter with marshals and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Ruth Madoff walked out of the apartment carrying just a straw bag after she was told she couldn’t take her coat, the official said.

“Ruth moved out voluntarily pursuant to the prior agreements we reached with the government,’’ said her lawyer, Peter Chavkin.

The 71-year-old Madoff was sentenced Monday to 150 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in March to charges that his investment advisory business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that wiped out thousands of investors and ruined charities.

Last week, Ruth Madoff agreed to give up all of her possessions in return for a promise that federal prosecutors would not pursue $2.5 million not tied to the fraud. The money, though, is not protected from civil legal actions that might be pursued by a court-appointed trustee liquidating Madoff’s assets.