Opinion: Ruth Madoff: Homeless and without a hairdresser as husband gets 150 years in jail

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Ponzi scheme swindler Bernard Madoff, the 71-year-old financier whose greed wiped out fortunes, ruined retirements, bankrupted several prominent Jewish charities and even led some investors to commit suicide, was sentenced today to 150 years in jail.

Victims pleaded with the court to throw the book at him as federal prosecutors sought the maximum term -- 150 years -- for what is considered the largest heist in Wall Street history, now estimated at $13 billion. And he did.


Madoff apologized to his victims -- ‘I’m sorry,’ he said, turning to face them. But Judge Denny Chin gave the perp the maximum because, he explained, Madoff never cooperated with prosecutors -- about either who might have helped him in his elaborate deception or where the money had gone to. When the judge pronounced his verdict, the courtroom erupted in applause. For once, the judge did not gavel them to silence.

Even as the Bernard Madoff sentencing took center stage, Ruth Madoff, the swindler’s wife of 49 years, was drawing almost as much ink as her husband.

Two weeks ago, in a piece entitled ‘The Loneliest Woman in New York,’ the New York Times reported that her usual salon, Pierre Michel, on Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side, had told her not to return for her every-six-weeks blond foil highlights.

Ruth Madoff made a deal with federal prosecutors last week to sell most of the couple’s assets -- the $7.5-million co-op and primary residence in Manhattan, the $11-million house in Palm Beach, Fla., the $3-million beach house on Montauk, at the tip of Long Island and, as the Wall Street Journal reported this morning, jewelry insured at more than $2.6 million and two fur coats valued at $48,500. In exchange, the Justice Department agreed to let the 68-year-old woman keep $2.5 million.

Now, the New York Post is reporting that landlords don’t want to rent to Mrs. Madoff, who is shopping for an apartment. She has started using her maiden name, Alpern, but no luck there either.

‘She has nowhere to go,’ a top broker said. ‘No one wants someone with her name in their building. People like their privacy.’

-- Johanna Neuman

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