Government Seeks to Take Bernie and Ruth Madoff's Houses, Assets

Prosecutors want to seize four homes, four cars, and Ruth's Steinway piano.

March 16, 2009, 11:56 AM

March 16, 2009— -- Ruth Madoff, the wife of super scammer Bernie Madoff, had wanted to hold onto her Manhattan penthouse and $62 million while her husband serves his sentence for 11 felony counts, but prosecutors do not intend to allow her to continue her luxurious lifestyle. The government wants to seize the $7 million Upper East Side apartment, as well as the couples' homes in Palm Beach, the Hamptons, and France, according to court filings in district court in New York.

Prosecutors have filed their intent to seek forfeiture of the couples' homes, as well as assets, including their 70 foot yacht, "Bull", four cars including a BMW and two Mercedes, Ruth's Steinway piano (valued at $39,000), and a silverware set (valued at $65,000).

Click here to watch exclusive footage of Madoff inside his luxury Upper East Side apartment.

In addition to the homes and valuables, prosecutors will seek to seize the funds in two bank accounts in Ruth Madoff's name. One at Wachovia Bank contains over $17 million according to prosecutors; a second at COHMAD Securities Group containing an estimated $45 million.

Ruth Madoff allegedly withdrew the $10 million from Cohmad the day before she agreed to secure her husband's $10 million bail, according to court filings in Boston. Cohmad is under investigation by Massachusetts authorities for allegedly being a "feeder fund" that steered investors to Bernie Madoff's $50 billion Ponzi scheme. She had withdrawn an additional $5 million just days before.

When Ruth posted her husband's bond, she told prosecutors she had her own money that she inherited from her now deceased parents. When Ruth Madoff's mother, Sara Alpern, died in 1996 she left more than $2 million in three trusts at Madoff & Co., according to her will obtained by ABC News. The money was left to her husband, Saul Alpern. Ruth and her sister, Joan, would inherit a little over $1 million dollars after Saul's death, according to the documents. Nothing close to the millions Ruth claims to have inherited.

Madoff Investigation Continues

Though Madoff pled guilty last week and is behind bars while awaiting his sentencing in June, investigators continue to narrow their focus on his possible accomplices, which include his wife and their two sons. Ruth Madoff is her husband's closest confidante who also had an office at her husband's investment headquarters in Manhattan.

Madoff has insisted that he ran the scam on his own. His lawyer intends to appeal the decision to hold Madoff in jail while he await sentencing, which is scheduled for June 16.

Court filings last week put the Madoffs' personal worth at $823 million. Investigators have recovered about $950 million in cash and securities from the company. Prosecutors estimate Madoff's scam could have cost his investors anywhere from $50 to $65 billion.

In effect, the government's latest effort is casting doubt on Madoff's statement last week that his scam started in the 90's, which, if true, would have meant there were some legitimately earned monies. This sweeping effort says everything they have was the fruits of the crimes.

Kate McCarthy contributed to this story.

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