Local News

Madoff outlines scheme for visitors

Posted July 29, 2009 8:48 a.m. EDT

— Representatives of victims of Bernie Madoff met with the disgraced financier for more than five hours Tuesday at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner.

Attorney Joseph W. Cotchett told reporters he was the first visitor Madoff has had since he arrived in Butner July 14.

"He was very candid with us and very remorseful," Cotchett said. "He spelled out how the fraud was committed, the parts of it and how long it went on."

The firm of Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy is suing members of Madoff's family, feeder funds and accounting firms in an attempt to recover money lost by their clients. Two lawyers from the San Francisco firm questioned Madoff, with his attorney present, about the activities that landed him in Butner and cost their clients millions. The firm represents investors from California, Florida and across the country.

"It, was quite frankly, an extraordinary interview," Cotchett said.

"I was very surprised at how candid and open he was. On the other hand, if you're doing 150 years in a federal prison, you don't have a lot of options."

Cotchett and colleague Nancy Fineman said before the interview that they hoped to gain information to use in their case. Tuesday's visit marks the first time Madoff has spoken to representatives of victims.

He did not hold anything back, Cotchett said. While Madoff insisted that his family knew nothing about his schemes, Cotchett said. "He did tell us some things that are going to assist us with third parties that are involved."

Cotchett was critical of the justice and financial regulatory systems, charging that Madoff was able to get away with his scam because of a lack of oversight.

"My message to the public today is: This should have never been allowed to happen and our government should have picked this up many years ago," he said.

"I was dumbfounded at the details he gave us and why it wasn't picked up earlier.

"My hope and desire is that it's gonna help a lot of people," Cotchett said. "There is a Madoff incident happening in this country, every week and every month. Maybe what we have learned here today is going to shed some light."

Madoff, 71, was sentenced June 29 to serve 150 years for fraud. He pleaded guilty in March to charges that his investment advisory business was a multibillion-dollar scheme that wiped out thousands of investors and ruined charities.

He has a projected release date of November 14, 2139, assuming he gets early release credit for good behavior while in prison.