Bernie Madoff, Lawyerly Lairs, Money, Real Estate, Wall Street, White-Collar Crime

Lawyerly Lairs: A Multimillion-Dollar Madoff Mansion

Peter Madoff (via Getty Images)

You can call notorious Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff many things, but thankfully you can’t call him a lawyer. Although he has gotten to know the law quite well over the years, thanks to his journey through the legal system, Bernie Madoff has no formal legal training law degree.

[UPDATE (6:40 p.m.): As noted in the comments, Madoff briefly attended Brooklyn Law School.]

But Bernie Madoff’s brother, Peter Madoff, is an attorney. Peter graduated from Fordham Law School in 1970 and is a member in good standing of the New York bar, next scheduled to register in October 2014.

Query why Peter Madoff hasn’t been disbarred. In June 2012, he pleaded guilty to numerous federal charges related to his service as “chief compliance officer” of Madoff Securities. In December 2012, he received a sentence of ten years in prison.

Now that Peter Madoff’s in the Big House — FCI Estill, according to the handy BOP Inmate Locator — let’s have a look at the big house he leaves behind. The federal government is trying to sell it for a sizable sum, almost $4.5 million….

We learned about the Madoff mansion from the New York Times:

The lush white mansion for sale at 34 Pheasant Run in Old Westbury on Long Island makes a grand first impression. It has a long, winding driveway; a tennis court; a two-bedroom pool house surrounded by lavish gardens; a parade of antiques in its hallways; and marble in hues of lapis and gold throughout the ground floor.

In many ways, the house is quite beautiful. But it is also a place full of shadows, a haunting just visible in its empty silver picture frames and in the red, white and blue signs that hang on every door: “United States Marshal,” the signs say. “No Trespassing.”

The U.S. Marshals Service put the house on the market this spring for $4.495 million, with proceeds going to Madoff victims. I do think the Marshals Service could do a better job selling the place, at least based on their comments to the Times:

“When dealing with a home this grandiose, the outside world can lose sight of where all these fine things come from,” Kevin Kamrowski, a deputy United States marshal, said in an e-mail. “Everything in this home was obtained on the backs of other people.”

That’s not exactly a great way to pull in prospective buyers. If I were a spokesperson for the Marshals, I’d say something more like, “This is a beautiful home, and whoever buys it from the federal government will be doing a good deed, helping out victims of a terrible criminal scheme.”

In fairness to the Marshals, they did take steps to improve the house’s marketability:

As a part of the staging, the asset forfeiture division of the Marshals Service tries to remove personal effects, like clothing, that might walk away during a tour, or might remind potential buyers of who once padded down these hallways in his slippers. A small bedroom is stacked high with cardboard boxes full of clothing and other items that will eventually go to auction. Photographs removed from frames are returned to the family….

“This was staged with, believe it or not, my recommendations and the hard work of the U.S. Marshals office,” said Shawn Elliott of Shawn Elliott Luxury Homes and Estates, the broker brought in to sell the property. “Every single book in here was actually taken off the shelf, tagged and numbered, and then put back.”

One book, however, was left out, prominently displayed on a table in the library: “A Code of Jewish Ethics, Volume 1: You Shall Be Holy,” by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin.

I suspect Alanis Morissette might have something to say about that.

A lot of work went into staging the Madoff mansion — but, truth be told, I don’t find it that beautiful. Take a look and see what you think….

(hidden for your protection)

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