A North Shore-based philanthropist is using $5 million of his own money to restore the retirement savings of his employees who lost their nest eggs to admitted swindler Bernard L. Madoff.
Robert I. Lappin today began restoring the funds to 60 employees of his company, Salem-based Shetland Properties, Inc., and to his private charity, The Robert I. Lappin Charitable Foundation. The employees' 401(k) plans, as well as the foundation's money and some of Lappin's personal wealth was managed by Madoff, who used the funds in what investigators believe is the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
"I wanted to do the right thing," he said. "And, I feel, I've done the right thing and that to me is my reward."
Lappin has also revived his foundation, which closed briefly in December after losing $8 million to Madoff. The nonprofit supports Jewish education and culture on the North Shore, and has restored 17 programs in education, interfaith outreach and family development. On Sunday the foundation helped send 82 Jewish teens to Israel after raising $450,000 in private donations for the Youth To Israel travel program.
Lappin has owned Shetland Properties, Inc., for 51 years. He said his net worth is now less than $10 million, a tenth of what it was before the scandal.
(Sean Sposito, Globe Correspondent)