NEW YORK – The U.S. Marshals Service on Thursday took possession of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff's $7 million Manhattan home, an action that forced his wife to move elsewhere despite her plea to stay.
Ruth Madoff asked to remain in the penthouse and wanted to take a fur coat with her before federal marshals seized the property.
A federal official informed of Ruth Madoff's departure from her apartment Thursday tells The Associated Press that when marshals said she couldn't take her coat, she left carrying just a straw bag.
The official wasn't authorized to discuss the details of her departure and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Marshals seized the property at about noon Thursday; a judge says it must be sold to help pay back investors who lost billions to Bernard Madoff's financial fraud.
Earlier Thursday, U.S. Marshal Joseph Guccione said Madoff's wife Ruth had been advised in advance of the marshals' plans and was leaving the residence, surrendering all personal property.
"She will be leaving," he said. "Restitution for the victims is the government's top priority."
Typically, the marshals service changes all locks and secures a property when it seizes a location.
Bernard Madoff, 71, was sentenced Monday to 150 years in prison. He pleaded guilty in March to charges that his investment advisory business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that wiped out thousands of investors and ruined charities.
Authorities said Madoff had carried out the fraud for at least two decades before confessing to his sons in December that his investment business was a fraud and that he had lost as much as $50 billion.
Last week, Ruth Madoff agreed to give up all of her possessions in return for a promise that federal prosecutors would not go after the $2.5 million she can keep. The money, though, is not protected from civil legal actions that might be pursued by a court-appointed trustee liquidating Madoff's assets or by investor lawsuits.
Ruth Madoff broke her silence Monday when she said in a statement that her husband "stunned us all with his confession and is responsible for this terrible situation in which so many now find themselves."