It was learned today that Bernie Madoff's wife, Ruth, withdrew some $10 million on Dec. 10, 2008, the day before her husband turned himself in to authorities and confessed his financial empire was all one big $50 billion "lie."
The $10 million withdrawal came on top of a $5.5 million withdrawal on Nov. 25, both from Cohmad Securities, which is co-owned by Madoff, according to Massachusetts Secretary of State, which released the information. (See photos of Bernie Madoff.)
Meanwhile, the case against her husband, alleged mastermind behind the greatest white collar crime ever, will have to wait another day as US federal prosecutors asked for and received another 30-day extension from a judge in US District Court today.
This is the second continuance in the highly anticipated case against Madoff, the former Nasdaq chairman who has been under house arrest since he was arrested December 11, 2008. The next preliminary hearing date is set for March 13, the US Attorney's office said. Marc Litt is the assistant US attorney handling the case.
The first 30-day extension was called for in mid-January by Manhattan-based US District Attorney's office, then still piecing together the stunning global fraud. The extension agreed to today by Feds and Madoff's lawyers appears to confirm the two sides are working hard on a plea bargaining deal. Litt's office, with no comment, has not tipped their hand either way. A guilty plea would mean Madoff would escape the glare of a trial and be sentenced quickly.
Earlier this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission cut a deal with Madoff, settling a civil case against him where he accepted a permanent asset freeze and agreed to the SEC's complaints against him were "established" and could not be contested. Madoff consented without "admitting or denying the allegations" that he allegedly ran the decades-long fraud under the nose of the SEC.
Many saw this civil case agreement as major signal that negotiations were moving fast on the criminal plea bargaining front, which may include Madoff's desire to keep his family out of trouble. Of course, Wednesday's revelation regarding Mrs. Madoff's financial withdrawals only raises the likelihood that prosecutors will look closely at family members' actions.
To date, Madoff is the only person charged in the case. He is still "free" on $10 million bail and is under house arrest, wearing an electronic ankle bracelet.
Robert Chew is a former investor with Madoff via a feeder fund. He lives in Colorado.