Victims To Speak At Madoff Sentencing

Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff will go before a judge tomorrow to find out how much of the rest of his life he will spend behind bars. He will also likely get an earful from his victims, as CBS News correspondent Randall Pinkston reports.

Sharon Lissaur is getting a chance to do something most of Bernard Madoff's 8,000 victims can't; she is one of the few selected to speak at the swindler's sentencing tomorrow.

"I just want him to hear how he has ruined and destroyed my life," Lissaur said.

She invested savings from her modeling career and an inheritance from her mother with Madoff just six weeks before the massive Ponzi scheme collapsed. She was completely wiped out. Lissaur will be one of the hundreds of victims expected to jam a federal courtroom in New York tomorrow when a judge imposes a sentence that could be up to 150 years in prison.

Under a preliminary court order issued Friday, the Madoffs are to forfeit interests in $171 billion in assets, including properties belonging to them, including homes in Manhattan, Montauk, N.Y., and Palm Beach, Fla., worth a total of nearly $22 million.

The judge's order authorized the U.S. Marshals Service to sell the properties, along with certain cars and boats. The Madoffs must also forfeit all insured or salable personal property contained in the homes. Other seized assets include accounts at Cohmad Securities Corp., valued at almost $50 million, and at Wachovia Bank, valued at just over $13 million, and tens of millions of dollars in loans extended by Madoff to family, employees and friends

Madoff's wife, Ruth, was ordered by the court to give up $80 million of her assets, including houses and jewelry. She will be left with $2.5 million in cash.

Madoff's lawyers say a humane sentence would be 12 years in prison, but federal prosecutors are recommending the maximum 150 year sentence.

"I would like to see him get a lifetime imprisonment and not in one of the fancy country club jails," said Rose Less, an 89-year-old victim who, along with her husband Jack, lost all of their savings - $800,000.

"We started to sell our furniture, some of our things that we value...so we should have some money immediately," Mrs. Less said.

What makes the Less' case more difficult is that the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), the agency charged with compensating victims who lost money with Madoff, is using a formula for restitution that will give the Less' nothing because they've withdrawn money over the years.

It's a formula that many say is unfair to the oldest of Madoff's victims, who now feel that they are now being victimized by the SIPC trustee as well as the Securities and Exchange Commission government auditors who repeatedly failed to properly investigate accused Madoff.

In other Madoff developments today:

  • ProPublica's Jake Bernstein reported that a Madoff associate, Jeffry Picower, may have benefitted even more from Madoff's fraudulent scheme than Madoff himself did.

  • Ruth Madoff agreed to forfeit more than $80 million worth of property sought in the case against her husband, which she had previously laid claim to.

    Tune in for CBS News' coverage of the Madoff sentencing starting around 10:00 a.m. ET.
    • Randall Pinkston

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