A federal judge has unsealed letters sent to the court from victims in the Madoff scandal, at the request of WNBC.
WNBC continues to fight to unseal other sealed records that may shed light additional light on missing assets and criminal investigation. The dozens of letters and emails released detail the heartbreak and anger of victims. In the letters below, both victims and angry citizens asked prosecutors and Judge Denny Chin to make sure Bernard Madoff stay in prison and receive the maximum punishment. Read Judge Chin's ruling on WNBC's request to unseal the letters.
Richard Shapiro of Hidden Hills California wrote Judge Chin how he lost everything after investing with Madoff for more than 20 years based on Madoff's "sterling credentials."
"Upon graduation from college, I didn't go to work to my commencement ceremony, I went to work. I continued to work long days from that date forward until about 5 years ago ... I turned to doing philanthropic non profit work given the belief that I had finally saved enough to support a pleasant life for me and my family ... Now everything I worked for and all I created over the last 30 years is gone."
Shapiro went on to write he is now desperate. "I lost 30 pounds, could not swallow food and lived in fear that my wife and children would be left penniless. I had no desire to live, no prospects of earning a living, no way to pay the bills."
More Victims' Letters
That letter is just one of dozens mailed or emailed before Madoff pleaded guilty. Many victims wrote to demand Madoff no longer be allowed to stay in his Upper East Side penthouse as they face the prospect of their own "financial life sentence."
Another letter speaks of Dr. Bruce Hector of Spencertown, N.Y. said he had practiced medicine to help his patients - not to become rich. "By 1988, he still had no savings except $145,000 left to him by the passing of his parents ... Lacking the expertise to understand the operations of Wall Street, he was compelled to 'trust the professionals' just like his patients must do with him in matters of health and illness. He could not have foreseen how misplaced that trust was."
Allan Goldstein of New York is 76-years-old and wrote how his wife is ill at age 73. He said his "entire life savings" is wiped out. "I read the S.E.C. report on Madoff and entrusted him with my IRA," he wrote. "We are moving to Los Angeles to live with our daughter. Our only source of income is social security and whatever our children are able to give us."
While prosecutors unsealed many of the emails they received, in many cases they redacted the names of the victims citing their right to privacy. WNBC and its attorneys are reviewing whether to ask the court to make the names public. The tales of economic loss are harrowing:
A Florida woman who lost $475,000 wrote:
"Money that took us 40 years to accumulate lost in a matter of seconds... I debated whether to pray for the return of our money or Madoff's soul. I guess it will be the money , since to do what he has done shows he has no soul."
Another letter states when Madoff was in his penthouse, he "lived the good life, while my friend suffers by having to sell her house at a loss, and live off food stamps now. She is in her 80s and worked her whole life and saved every dime only to have this man live a highflying lifestyle she will never be able to live."
A man identified only as MT wrote how he lost $197,391.
"To add to my financial burden, my son was recently diagnosed with Multiple Scoliosis and now I'm faced with trying to help him with his treatment which is very expensive. I'm saddened that I have no way of assisting him financially as my income is limited and I'm barely able to support myself at this point."
anonymous, unclear if victim,
And yet another victim wrote what he wanted said to Madoff in the courtroom: "You are one of the lowest existing people on this earth and you obviously have no compassion for others. You must be void of any human emotion which makes you truly evil. God must be frowning on you with a heavy heart in your time of judgment for your crimes."
(Reporting by Jonathan Dienst,WNBC)