Madoff needs quarters in NC prison

July 28, 2009 5:35:51 PM PDT
Disgraced Wall Street financier Bernie Madoff got a visit in a North Carolina prison from two lawyers representing his victims Tuesday.Joe Cotchett and Nancy Fineman of the California firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy have sued members of Madoff’s family, smaller funds that fed into his massive ponzi scheme, and accounting firms - trying to recover some of the millions of dollars their clients lost.

"We're going after Mr. Madoff, his family and everyone else involved - the third parties and those people that should've been aware of what was going on. The accountants, lawyers involved, other traders that were involved, all the hedge fund managers. Those are the people that should've been looked at," Cotchett told Eyewitness News in an exclusive interview.

In March, Madoff pleaded guilty in federal court to charges that included securities fraud, money laundering and making false filings to the Security and Exchange Commission. He's now serving his sentence at a federal prison in Butner - just outside Raleigh.

Madoff's life in Butner is a lot different from his glamorous Manhattan lifestyle. Cotchett and Fineman showed Eyewitness News what they planned to bring into prison - two, $10 rolls of quarters - their gift, they say, to the man once worth billions.

"We're allowed to bring in paper and pencil and rolls of quarters," said Cotchett. "Bernie needs rolls of quarters and our gift to Bernie Madoff are those rolls of quarters, and he needs them desperately, he needs them desperately … because he needs to use the vending machine and he doesn't have quarters."

All told, Madoff's fraud cost investors as much as $65 billion. It's been called the largest investor fraud ever committed by one person. While Madoff says he acted alone, Cotchett and Fineman doubt that.

"In cases like this you can never do these frauds alone, and he did this for too many years, the public view of it being a small 17th floor of just a few people doing it. There's a whole lot bigger story. Whether he's gonna tell us, we'll just have to see that," said Fineman.

The lawyers say attorneys for Madoff's wife Ruth helped arrange the meeting which was set to take four hours. They believe they may learn something federal authorities haven't dug up and think Madoff may give up some associates to protect others.

"The successful resolution would be to get back all the money that he lost. That isn't going to happen. That's never gonna happen," said Crotchett.

"The big issue at the end of the day will be who does he throw under the bus and who does he push out of the way, that's really what it comes down to," said Fineman.


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