Ruth Madoff Free to Travel As Prosecutors Return Her Passport

"Clear sign" she won't be charged as Bernie's accomplice in Ponzi scheme.

July 7, 2009, 1:32 PM

July 7, 2009— -- Federal prosecutors allowed Ruth Madoff to get her passport back today, in what people involved in the case said was "a clear sign" she will not be prosecuted as an accomplice in her husband's $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

She had surrendered the passport as part of her husband's bail condition, and Judge Denny Chin authorized the court's pre-trial services division to return it to her, in an order entered yesterday.

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"If you were going to charge her, you would not give her the means to leave the country," said one person involved in the case.

Ruth helped her husband start his business in the 1960's and helped keep the books. She maintained an office at her husband's firm and spent several days a week there, although friends and former employees said her duties involved no more than balancing the checkbook.

"She made sure that the entries matched what was on the bank statement," said one person close to her. "She was completely unaware that Bernie was running a scam until he told her."

In the weeks before Madoff's arrest, Ruth transferred $15.5 million invested with her husband's firm to another bank.

Ruth's lawyer, Peter Chavkin, declined to comment.

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