NEW YORK – The government, as it attempts to seize as much of Bernie Madoff's fortune as possible, has released dozens of emotional letters from Madoff's victims pleading with a judge to punish him harshly for his massive fraud.
The letters were written to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin before the disgraced money manager pleaded guilty last week.
“We have both worked and saved our hard-earned blood money to invest with Bernard Madoff,” wrote one victim quoted by the New York Times. The man, a New Jersey construction worker who began to invest with Madoff in 1992, said that because of Madoff's scam, his daughter no longer has money for law school, and his wife has had to take a second job.
“I liken this situation to a domestic holocaust,” he wrote. “We were attacked and now we are being tortured to live within a nightmare.”
Click here for photos.
Madoff pleaded guilty to securities fraud and other charges and admitted defrauding thousands of investors of billions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. Chin sent him to prison immediately.
Pominent pieces of Madoff's family fortune have become the target of prosecutors, who are seizing as much as they can, hoping to sell off those assets in order to recover whatever possible for the investors he swindled.
For example, a yacht named "Bull" owned by Madoff's wife, Ruth Madoff, is valued at $7 million and was moored in southeastern France as of late December, according to the Associated Press. The Madoffs have a vacation home there.
The Madoffs also own an ocean-front home in Montauk, N.Y., valued at $3 million. And the swindler's New York City residence is a luxury unit in an apartment building on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
As for Madoff's victims, investors like Richard Shapiro of Hidden Hills, Calif., were wiped out financially by Madoff's crimes.
Shapiro told Chin it sent him into a deep depression and caused him to lose 30 pounds because he was so upset he could not swallow food.
Another victim, who said her children cashed in an insurance policy to provide for her, wrote, “Mr. Madoff took my hopes, dreams and self-esteem,” according to The Times. “I am at my wits’ end. I am not sophisticated or knowledgeable about investing. I worked all my life, lived frugally.” She added, “I am 75 years old and physically cannot find work.”
Madoff will remain in prison until he is sentenced in June. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday backed a lower court ruling a day after hearing arguments from his lawyer.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.