Feds Take Bernie's Boats And Mansion

Madoff's mansion, yacht and a smaller boat taken by US Marshalls

Jailed swindler Bernie Madoff's 55-foot luxury yacht and a smaller vessel were seized today by U.S Marshals in Miami, just the latest blow to the Ponzi-scheming Wall Street cheat.

The 55-foot yacht named "Bull" and a 24-foot motor boat were taken from two different marinas, said Barry Golden, a
spokesman for the U.S. Marshals Service. The yacht, a 1969 Rybovich, is worth $2.2 million.

"A lot of money was put into maintaining this boat," said Golden. "This boat was extremely well kept, extremely clean. Engine compartment was spotless. It looked like somebody took a bottle of 409 and scrubbed it every day."

Hours after seizing the boats, agents began changing the locks in Madoff's five-bedroom mansion.

Authorities entered and secured the mansion, changed the locks and conducted an inventory of the property, which Palm Beach records show had a taxable value of $9.3 million last year.

"It's not an April Fools' joke," Golden said.

Madoff purchased the property in 1994 under his wife Ruth's for $3.8 million.

The mansion was unoccupied when federal authorities arrived, and the inspection took longer than expected because so many locks needed to be changed. They left around 9 p.m. after setting the alarm and posting a "no trespassing" sign on a window.

Madoff is sitting in jail pending sentencing for pleading guilty to charges he swindled billions from investors in what could be the biggest scam in Wall Street history. He faces a maximum sentence of 150 years behind bars.

Court documents show Madoff and his wife Ruth had $826 million in assets at the end of last year -- including the boats.

Prosecutors are seizing as much as they can of Madoff's personal fortune, and have begun demanding millions of dollars in payments from his relatives. Roughly 6,700 people have filed claims for a share of whatever is recovered. Thousands more -- some who lost in excess of $1 million -- are expected to come forward.

If prosecutors get their way, Madoff and his wife, who has not been charged, will have to give up all their assets, including
a $7 million Manhattan penthouse bought in 1984, the Florida home, a $1 million home in Cap d' Antibe, France and a $3 million luxury home on New York's Long Island.

The government also wants Madoff and his wife to forfeit $10 million in furnishings for all the homes and luxury cars, among other items.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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