Bernie Madoff – Fess Up or Shut Up.


Written on December 27, 2012 – 1:25 am | by ibkent

Oh yay. Bernie has spoken out  – again.  The headline in the LA Times was “From behind bars, Bernard Madoff Offers Wall Street Commentary.”  Like anyone asked him?  How is it that a pathological liar can attract so much attention whenever he opens his mouth?  And the LA times wasn’t alone …  Salon.com says “the fraudster shares his insights,” and the HuffingtonPost.com, not to be outdone says “Bernie Madoff Bemoans the Ills of Modern Finance in CNBC Letter.

Media outlets  continue to give this whore what he craves – more attention.  I have one question. Why?  Could he possibly have anything relevant to say? I doubt it.  Could he be presenting any new information?  Even less likely.  Who really care what this liar says?  Every time he  opens his mouth, it is a cruel reminder of the thousands of victims of his most heinous of non-violent crimes — betraying their trust.  To refresh your memories – Bernie now receives three squares, a roof over his head, and  free medical care.  The vast majority of Madoff’s victims – many in their 80’s and 90’s, and most not even having known they had invested with him, lost everything and have received not a dime from the Bankruptcy Trustee charged with making sense of this $65 billion government failure.

Here’s an idea, until and unless Bernie fesses up as to who his accomplices truly were – the Prison where he resides and the FBI — trying on its own to piece together this massive fraud — should demand that Bernie just. shut. up.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Boycott “American Greed” and Ruth Madoff


Written on December 11, 2012 – 8:26 pm | by ibkent

So, it’s “Bernie Madoff Day,” according to the New York Times. Thanks for the reminder.  Tonight, in a shameless bid for viewers on the four-year anniversary of  Madoff’s arrest, A&E’s series “American Greed” is the lastest to trout out Ruthie Madoff.  I suspect there will be three key messages from her tonite: “Yes, I loved Bernie. No, I didn’t know. I’m a victim too.” Well, one out of three might be true.

– Were Bernie and Ruthie in love and happily married?  Heck, wouldn’t you with homes in New York, East Hampton, and Palm Beach and a bottomless checking account?

– Did Ruthie know the ins and outs of Bernie’s fraud?  I don’t know and frankly  don’t care. Should she have known – as a trained bookkeeper who actually worked for Bernie at one point – that something was amiss? Absolutely.  (For the record, I would put the two madoff sons in the same category.)

— Is she a victim?  I guess as much as anyone who walked away with $2.1 million, then  laughs about a supposed suicide attempt  just months after her own son took his life can be a victim. But in short, no freaking way.

The real victims are those who spent decades building and selling business, and now facing  retirement years with no savings, the real victims are those who’ve been foreclosed on, the real victims are those who, for the first time in their lives have to depend 100% on public assistance, including food stamps, the real victims will never see a dime of the so-called billions recovered.

Maybe one day I will understand America’s fascination with criminals and those who love them.

Tags: , , , ,

Irving Picard


Written on October 28, 2011 – 2:50 am | by ibkent

I thought I misread it.

I was reading a story on Bloomberg.com noting that the Madoff family would be allowed to keep over $80 million thanks to a ruling by Judge Jed Rakoff  several weeks back. According to this ruling, the Bankruptcy Trustee Irving Picard can only go back two years to retrieve funds withdrawn from the scheme.  It’s a shame that the Madoff family will also profit from this ruling, but on balance it is the right ruling.

And that’s not what upset me.  It was this line referring to another victim, James Greiff, represented by Ms. Helen Chaitman, a tireless champion for Madoff victims:

“Hiding behind the veil of ‘innocent investor,’ Greiff aims to keep money he now knows was stolen from other customers,” Picard told the judge.

“Hiding behind the veil of ‘innocent investor’?  The Trustee has so overstepped his bounds that the General Accounting Office is reviewing his conduct and behavior. I sure hope that his treatment of Mr. Greiff is included in that investigation.

Madoff Media Whores


Written on October 28, 2011 – 1:40 am | by ibkent

Here we are nearly three years out from the worst financial crime in history, and the media remain singularly focused on the musings of the criminal himself – Bernie Madoff – and his family.  Been a bad week for Madoff victims as we’ve had to watch Stephanie Madoff Mack make the media rounds, Ruth Madoff will be the subject of a much-hyped interview on 60 Minutes, and Barbara Walters is just the latest in a string of media whores (there, I said it) chasing Bernie “You-Know-When-I’m-Lying-Because-My-Mouth-Moves” Madoff for an interview, again leaving the truth and the story of the real victims of this crime to scream at the TV with no way to speak out.

Don’t get me wrong, Stephanie Madoff suffered a real and tragic loss.  Her husband and the father of her children is no longer amongst the living. She is left to raise two small children on her own.  But let’s not forget that Stephanie still has a good deal of money to her name, unlike the overwhelming majority of Madoff victims.  In fact, just today, it was announced that she and the other Madoffs are beneficiaries a recent court ruling by Judge Jed Rakoff that, barring any proven complicity, the Madoff family will get to keep over $80 million.  So, please don’t pity Ms. Stephanie Madoff. Perhaps she might want to make a contribution to the not for profit that has been set up to lobby for much needed change.

Next up is Ruth Madoff’s much hyped upcoming interview with Morley Safer to be aired this Sunday on 60 Minutes – a news magazine show that has clearly jumped the shark.  Poor Ruthie – who was allowed to keep over $2 million for herself. Poor Ruthie – who lived the life of Reilly for years on the backs of her husband’s marks.  Poor Ruthie — who worked as her husband’s bookkeeper but wants us to believe she had no suspicions.

Now Poor Ruthie wants us to believe that she and Bernie made a suicide pact because they were “depressed,” after all, they were receiving hate mall, mean phone calls, and on top of everything else, it was Christmas Eve.  Yeah, right, she was so depressed that the security guard that was on duty until 7 pm that night saw nothing amiss, and what exactly did two Jews have to be depressed about on Christmas anyway? Chinese restaurant closed? Favorite movie not playing? (Though nothing would please me better than Bernie and Ruthie denying being Jewish – I wish we had ex-commuication.) How exactly does a lying sociopath like Bernie Madoff feel depressed? And Ruthie can’t even say how many pills she took? What types of pills she took? Trust me, if she wanted to kill herself she could and would have.  The Madoff family has proven time again they care about one thing and one thing only – themselves. Everything else is for show.

As if this interview is not bad enough, I am most disturbed by the video of Barbara Walters on Good Morning America this morning with GMA host Robin Roberts. Sure seems like Ms. Walters has jumped her own shark, feeling compelled to make a beeline to Prisoner #61727-054 at the Federal Correctional Institutional in Butner, North Carolina to talk about lord knows what. Robin Roberts has interviewed Madoff victims before. She knows the true victims of his crimes are real people. She knows an overwhelming majority are the 99%.  But Barbara Walters acts as if she’s received a hearing with the Pope himself. Does she really not know that there is one surefire way to know that Bernie Madoff is lying? His lips move.

Most egregiously, Barbara Walters, for whom I had great respect until today, treated Bernie’s statement that victims would all be receiving their principle back and in many cases 60 cents on the dollar, as fact! Shame on you Barbara Walters. Shame on you for not doing your homework. Shame on you for not doing your own research. And shame on you for treating a conman, criminal, and proven sociopath as if he were someone special, and contributing to opening old wounds for the thousands of victims who don’t have Ruthie’s $2 million, and don’t have Bernie’s “peace of mind.” Shame on all of the media for not telling the real story.

I’ve tweeted Robin Roberts. I reminded her of our interview two and a half years ago. I reminded her that she promised to follow up. And I reminded her that Ms. Walters continued to present Madoff’s lies as facts. Let’s see how she responds.

Tags: , , , , , ,

This is Compassion? Madoff Trustee Demands Millions from Agency that aids Seniors


Written on October 18, 2011 – 2:06 am | by ibkent

The Trustee handling the Madoff liquidation will tell any reporter who will listen that he has unique “discretion” and “compassion.”  Under what definition is it compassionate to demand over $5 million from an organization that benefits the elderly?  Read it for yourself.  This is beyond cruel.

Tags: , , , , , ,

Irving Picard’s Perversion – #OWS and Madoff Victims


Written on October 14, 2011 – 9:47 pm | by ibkent

I posted a story early in the #OccupyWallStreet protest talking about an unlikely alliance between Madoff investors and OWS.

In that post, I talked about the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), a not-for-profit organization ostensibly created to assist investors who lose their hard earned money, but whose real job, we have come to realize, is to protect its dues paying members, SEC-registered broker dealers, i.e., Wall Street.

Irving Picard, the Trustee appointed by SIPC to oversee the liquidation of the Madoff firm has, for literally years, been maligning the victims of this epic fraud, and successfully creating friction and dissension between and amongst various groups of investors, all the while blissfully receiving rubber stamps from a Federal Bankruptcy Judge.  But yesterday, he hit a new low, even for Mr. Picard and his pit-bull-I-mean-lawyer, David Sheehan – Managing Director for Baker & Hostetler.  I’ve been intimately involved with the aftermath of this crime for nearly three years and thought I’d pretty much heard it all.

Yet, now there has been a, shall we say, turning of the tides, the Trustee has taken yet another shot at the victims, maligning them for “perverting the law.”   Hell, even CRIMINALS are allowed to appeal proceedings.  Mr. Picard’s claims of “judge shopping” is also just plain nasty and yet another attempt to demonize victims. Never mind that there is clear legal standing with which lawyers for victims are appealing to Federal District Court Judge, Jed Rakoff, on key issues – issues that are clearly outside the purview of Bankruptcy Court.

But let’s look at this in the context of Occupy Wall Street — it’s the equivalent of “let them eat cake.”  Those participating in OWS have had enough of  banks  rolling over customers and consumers for decades; well, after three years of getting rolled over by the Trustee and SIPC, Madoff victims have also had enough of a Trustee perverting laws that were initially put into place to protect investors, and to be used against them.

Ron Stein, President of the Network for Investor Action and Protection, said it best:  “It is absurd that the trustee is complaining about the targets of his lawsuits exercising their right to defend themselves.  And it should be noted that despite his ‘three years of hard work,’ he has barely begun to return lost money to these innocent investors — not exactly a swift return of funds that investor protection laws clearly require.”

 

Tags: , , , ,

#OccupyWallStreet and NYPD


Written on October 6, 2011 – 9:27 pm | by ibkent

I have to admit that I’m a little conflicted. The air in Foley Square yesterday in anticipation of the march down to Zuccotti Square was full of levity and excitement. It was, well, electric. I was there with thousands of others — young, old, middle aged, black, white, asian, jewish, muslim, some in jeans and tee shirts, others in suits, even women with strollers, one proudly baring a “Proud Union Mama” sign. The Transit Works whom, I believe, actually received the permits for the location, created some much needed ‘noise ” – not the bad kind of noise, just the kind of statements and joyous music to get people excited to be at one of the largest mass demonstrations ever in New York City.

Signs, such as this one here, were brilliant works of art … others, not so much. Some were slightly off topic, but hey, they were there, right? Being counted, and that was important.  Various signs were provided by one of the many unions who participated in yesterday’s pre-march rally – Transit Workers, Nurses, Teamsters, Carpenters, Teachers, and the like. Most prominent were “We are the 99%” (or some variation), “Tax Wall Street Transactions/Heal America.” One of my favorite handmade signs – “We march for hope not hate” summed up the peaceful nature of the demonstrators.  You can see additional photos here: http://albums.phanfare.com/isolated/I1U5xcrO/1/5300345

 

Being a little claustrophic, and being penned in with a couple of thousand of  my new best friends behind unmoveable metal barriers, I was anxious to get out after about an hour (I’d assumed that the march would begin at 4:30). It wasn’t exactly easy, but I really did understand why the Park was cordoned off. The officers  relented and allowed us to go directly into the Brooklyn Bridge subway stop. No problem.

I paid my fare, headed  to the Upper West Side, anticipating the coverage on the evening news, given Ed Schultz’s appearance at the rally.   Now, keep in mind, I’d left a joyous, loud, but peaceful demonstration so imagine my surprise, watching Keith Olbermann, read the statement from #OccupyWallStreet.  I couldn’t believe my ears when he concluded with a comment about the “violence that ensued.” Twitter was lit up with #OccupyWallStreet hashtags and links to videos of NYPD misconduct.

And here is where I am felling a little conflicted. Barriers had been set up across the entrance to Wall Street, and those barriers have been in place from the beginning of #OccupyWallStreet. It was not a surprise to the demonstrators that they could not go down that road (literally and figuratively).  But yet, they chose to defy the police officers — for whatever reason — and climb over the fence.  How exactly did the demonstrators think that the NYPD would respond?  Kind of like the Brooklyn Bridge – I don’t know if the police “entrapped” the protesters or not, but clearly, not telling the police the route, changing at the last minute, then tying up traffic at one of only a few thoroughfare off the city of Manhattan was misguided at best, especially in light of the prior day’s targeted killings of al-Qaeda bigwigs.  I did think I was alone in feeling this way, but in speaking with others yesterday, I was not.  So, back to Wall Street — how was it that the NYPD was to control the crowd, the same crowd that had to KNOW  the NYPD was on edge, and best I could tell was bent on niggling the cops. Most of the videos do NOT show the preceding pushing and shoving, focusing solely on the police misconduct.  Bottom line – crowd surged the police line. NYPD responded. Clearly, ensuing videos call into question whether the officers – particularly the brass – over-reacted, or used “appropriate” force.  We can ask if the night sticks and pepper spray were warranted, but clearly, it became an issue of crowd control  In the interest of fairness, (and this is something I think we rightfully criticize Fox News for)  it is important that both sides be presented.

Now, I have since seen additional video that shows, to me, excessive use of force that I hope will be thoroughly investigated with appropriate disciplinary action. The other video that I also found quite disturbing was of a police officer bragging that his “little baton would be getting some action tonite” followed by his pounding the night stick on the ground. Now, at best this officer is just plain stupid  to say that with anyone within earshot, at worst, he is one of the bad apples that I hope will be drummed out of the NYPD.

Tags: , , ,

Madoff Investors and #OccupyWallStreet – An Unlikely Alliance


Written on October 4, 2011 – 6:31 pm | by ibkent

Cong. Scott Garrett has shown yet again his deep understanding of the Madoff affair by asserting that the embattled Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is more interested in protecting Wall Street than Main Street, and that the Madoff victims have been the canaries in the coal mine.    Nearly three years have passed since Bernard Madoff confessed and was taken into custody, yet  countless numbers of investors are still waiting for justice and insurance relief.

 

It did not take Madoff investors long to figure out that the Trustee appointed by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) was more interested in protecting Wall Street and SEC-registered broker dealers than in protecting and making “prompt” SIPC payments to investors, as required by law. [The SIPC is a member-supported organization funded by member — SEC registered broker dealers — assessments.  There is NOT ONE dollar of taxpayer monies involved, although the SEC does have oversight of the SIPC.]   Pulitzer Prize winning New York Times reporter Gretchen Morgenson wrote a story back in 2000 asserting that SIPC laws that were initially put in place to protect investors are used AGAINST investors. And sadly, a decade later, nothing has changed.

 

In the Madoff case, it looked like payments would be prompt, as per the Securities Investor Protection Act of 1970 (SIPA) – the same act that created the SIPC. Afterall, both  Stephen Harbeck and Josephine Wang (Executive Director and General Counsel, respectively, of SIPC)  were both on record saying that anyone with a valid account with Bernard L. Madoff Investor Securities (BLMIS) would be eligible for a SIPC payment of up to $500,000.  Simple, right? Not so fast.  What has become abundantly clear is that shortly after these  public comments , the Trustee, Irving Picard (who has overseen a record 6 SIPC liquidations prior to Madoff) and David “Pit Bull” Sheehan, Managing Director of Picard’s firm, Baker and Hostetler,  had a “holy crap” moment — the point at which they realized that the woefully underfunded SIPC (despite repeated GAO and Congressional warnings to refill the coffers) could not meet the demands of the thousands of SIPC-eligible Madoff investors.  So, the job again, as per the Morgenson article became not “let’s help the scammed investors,” but “let’s protect Wall Street.” Virtually nothing had changed in ten years, other than the scope of the liquidations.  Within weeks, the Trustee and his attack dog, Mr. Sheehan, had created two sets of investors — “Net Losers” vs. “Net Winners,”   pitting one set of investors against another.  And the massive unprecedented SIPC liquidation litigation was put in motion.

 

To date, the Trustee and his lawyers have billed SIPC nearly a half billion (yes, that’s billion, with a B) dollars for the expenses to litigate the Madoff fraud, including lawsuits against the old and the frail, requiring these innocent victims of the world’s largest financial scam, to pay legal fees in the hopes they will be deemed worthy of a lawsuit dismissal.  This stonewalling legal activity has left investors continuing to opine what America and the #OccupyWallStreet movement has finally acknowledged — Wall Street is not interested in Main Street.

Tags: , , ,

Rush Limbaugh Sponsors – Join the HUSHRUSH Campaign!


Written on September 30, 2011 – 10:23 pm | by ibkent

HUSHRUSH Sponsors

One New Yorker’s Memory of 9/11


Written on August 30, 2011 – 2:28 am | by ibkent

It was a little after 8:45 a.m..  “Are the trains running?” the man asked the clerk as I put my token into the turnstile.  What a silly question I think as I board the #2 train at 72nd Street  heading downtown on the morning of September 11, 2001.  On a normal Tuesday morning, I would have left my apartment by 8:15 a.m. to get to work at my office on the 32nd floor of a high rise building on the northeast corner of Park Avenue and 34th Street by 8:45, the very time I was now getting onto the subway.

But this wasn’t an ordinary morning.  It was Election Day and there were important primaries.  I had voted in every single election and while this was an “off year” election, I still felt it my civic responsibility to vote.

I awoke to a beautiful fall day… “Primary Day” is how the good folks at 1010 WINS Radio woke me up at 7:25 a.m. and the New York Giants had played a Monday Night Game the night before.  The sun was shining, not a cloud in the sky, and the weatherman was forecasting a high in the mid-70’s.  I threw on some workout clothes and running shoes, and took the elevator down five floors to the well-equipped exercise room in my apartment building on the Upper West Side, a stone’s throw away from the Juilliard School. I returned to my apartment 30 minutes later, showered, and went to my polling place at LaGuardia High School, catercornered to my apartment.

Because I was running a little late, I walked to the IRT Express Subway Station at 72nd Street so that I could save a few minutes on my commute.  The subway token clerk (MetroCards were not yet being sold) quizzically looked at the questioner and told him that of course the trains were running. I did not linger to find out what he meant.

I rode the train the two stops to Penn Station/34th Street.  At street level, there were a lot people milling about. But hey, it was still rush hour.  I stopped to talk to a young man with suitcases who was preparing to board the eastbound crosstown bus as was I.  He mentioned he was from Albania and I offered my sympathies for the decades long civil strife that his country had endured.  He responded with words that I can still hear. “Well,” he said, “it’s nothing compared to what happened earlier today at the World Trade Center.”  The shock showed on my face and he told me that an airplane had crashed into the World Trade Center. “How could that be?” I wondered.  I had only left my apartment no more than 20 minutes earlier; certainly, I, the news junkie, would have heard something.   I pulled out my cell phone and called my sister who not only confirmed these facts but, somewhat shaken, told me how she’d just watched a second plane crash into the other Tower while she was tuned to the Today Show.  I slowly boarded the M34 bus.  The driver had a transistor radio and told me that he’d heard that the FBI did not suspect terrorism. My common sense told me otherwise.

The bus was eerily quiet and we were squeezed in like sardines.  Facing south as the bus traveled east I gasped as we passed 6th Avenue, and the entire bus turned to look out of the window and all we saw was a huge ball of black smoke coming from the Twin Towers. No words that can do justice to the scent.  It was at this point that the driver announced that “due to the tragedy at the World Trade Center this morning, passengers should expect travel delays.”

When I got off the bus at Park Avenue a police car with two officers flew past, heading south with sirens on and lights flashing;  I still remember the image of the officer’s mustached face, his elbow on the window, as the car went whizzing by.

It was now 9:15 – 30 minutes since the first plane hit, and less than 15 minutes since the second.  The radio on my Sony Discman was reporting that the Pentagon was on fire and all I could think was “We’re under attack.”  I arrived at my building in tears and shaking, and took the elevator to the 32ndth floor. This building, built on the site of the old Armory, was probably the tallest building between 34th Street and the World Trade Center.  My office faced south and I could see the flames and the smoke billowing from the Towers. I turned on the TV in my office.  On a good day, I barely got reception on Channel 4, the local NBC affiliate.  At 10:28, I heard the announcer say “Oh my God, the North Tower …” and all I heard was static.   I looked south and saw the transmitting tower drop several hundred feet as the building imploded and disappeared from view.  As the dust settled, I remember thinking “the skyline of the city will never be the same.”  Phone service was already spotty, but I was able to get my brother in Atlanta on the phone.  I was on the phone with him as the second building collapsed.  I put my head on my desk and cried for the thousands of souls who surely perished.

I told my colleagues that they could stay, but I was heading home.

I ventured west on 34th Street and found my way to Times Square where thousands had gathered to watch the news ticker … there was no “us” or “them” – all of us were Americans — young, old, white, black, Asian, Christian, Jew, and Muslim, blue collar, white collar.  Nobody could believe what was on the screen.   A visitor to the City asked me if I knew where the nearest hospital was. He wanted to donate blood.  I suggested he walk with me up to the Upper West Side. I live at the corner of 66th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, across the Street from then New York Headquarters of the American Red Cross.  We walked into the lobby of the building and it was sheer chaos. I returned to my apartment to wait until the next day to give blood, not knowing of course, that there would be little need for the gallons and gallons of blood that would ultimately be donated.

The mayor had ordered the island of Manhattan closed, so unless you lived in Brooklyn or Queens and could walk over the Brooklyn, Manhattan or Queensborough Bridge, there was no way for commuters to return home.  I was expecting my brother-in-law and nephew, stranded in the City, for dinner, so, I grabbed my grocery cart and headed to the Gristede’s at 64th Street and West End.  On my way, I stopped at my local Firehouse (L35, E40) to see if the firefighters needed anything.  It struck me that there were no fire engines at the House, only MTA buses, meant to shuttle firefighters to and from the scene of the worst terror attack on US soil. (It wasn’t until two days later that I heard the awful news that 12 of their brothers were missing, which is pretty much when the gravity of the situation truly hit me.)  The grocery story was packed.  No one knew when the routes into and out of the City would be open and when the stores would receive new shipments.

After buying enough for dinner for three that night, I returned home and turned on the TV.  My heart sank as the reporters, on-air live from what is now and will likely forever be known as “Ground Zero,” mentioned that over 200 firefighters” were missing.  I could not conceive how 200 firefighters could just be “missing.”  Amsterdam Avenue was a parking lot, and not one horn was honking.   Motorcycle cops escorted vans, presumably with donated blood, out of the Building.  It was just surreal.  The Mayor, not knowing what the next day would bring, urged residents to stay home.  I awoke the next morning and turned on WNBC as usual, and they were showing footage of the wreckage, with “We shall overcome,” as a soundtrack – and I will never forget the image of African-American EMT comforting a smaller white woman, both completely covered in the WTC dust. It just so touched my heart.  I  dressed and walked across the street to the Red Cross building and sat patiently with hundreds of others waiting for my blood to be drawn talking to one young man telling us that he had a number of friends who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald and the last he heard from them, they were headed up to the roof.  As we know now, Cantor Fitzgerald lost hundreds that day.

As the days wore on, and our tragedy became the nation’s and the world’s, New Yorkers slowly adjusted to a new way of life.

It’s been 10 years  and the Ground Zero Memorial is nearly complete.  So many heroes that day and in the days following – NYPD and PAPD officers and FDNY firefighters running into the buildings while the throngs were escaping; it doesn’t matter that this was their job. The job is dangerous and the men and women who perform the job are courageous.  Men and women who did what they needed to do that day to help their fellow human beings escape the horror of the Towers, many losing their own lives in the process. Tradesmen and women who flocked down to Ground Zero in the days after to help – tradesmen, welders, electricians – many of whom are now, 10 years later, seriously ill; while a grateful city continues to mourn each and every loss, they have become political pawns.

It seems like yesterday and it seems like decades ago. Time is now marked as pre or post 9/11. We showed the world what a kind place New York can be. Some may have known they would not come out alive. I now pause when I see a firetruck – will this be their last call? I wave to the firefighters at my local firehouse when I walk by.  My nerves are rattled by low flying aircraft and repeated sounds of emergency vehicles.

But in the end, we are New Yorkers, we survived, and life goes on.

 

10685344_10204712422838396_6436404063991523836_n

Tags: