Posted on Thu, Jan. 22, 2009
West Goshen widow's riches-to-rags story
By Harold Brubaker
Inquirer Staff Writer
When Maureen Ebel's uncle called her at 10:45 p.m. Dec. 11, she feared a
death in the family.
Instead, her Uncle Leonard gave Ebel news of another kind of disaster
that would upend her life: New York investment manager Bernard L. Madoff
had been charged with massive fraud.
Ebel, 60, a widow who lives outside West Chester and winters near West
Palm Beach, thought she had $7.3 million with Madoff.
It became sickeningly clear over the next day or so that all her money
was gone. "The thought that I have to work now as long as I can stand up
to feed myself" shattered her comfortable world, she said.
Six days after Madoff's arrest for allegedly bilking investors in a $50
billion Ponzi scheme, Ebel had a strenuous temporary job caring for a
wealthy friend's 93-year-old mother and keeping her house, pushing the
vacuum cleaner and ironing.
"The first day, I went home and cried," Ebel said.
Ebel, a retired nurse with blond hair and big blue eyes set on a broad
face that turns red with emotion, is no stranger to hard work. She got
her first job at age 14. But she believed she had moved on for good.
"This is my fate," said Ebel, who is still pained by her husband's death
in 2000, when he was just 53.
"I was married, had a fabulous marriage to a man I loved and worshiped,
a physician. We traveled. We had a very fine life. And he's dead. He
died, and every penny I had in the world has been stolen."
During an interview in the living room of her four-bedroom colonial on a
West Goshen Township cul-de-sac, Ebel swung between despair over her
losses, anger that Madoff still calls a Manhattan penthouse home after
ruining thousands, and determination to build a new life.
Her friends are not surprised. "Her attitude is: This is not going to
lick me," said Marlene Bezark, a West Conshohocken resident who has
known Ebel for 35 years.
Ebel, who was born in Philadelphia and has lived in Chester County since
she was 6 years old, is making big and small moves to battle back.
She listed her Florida condo with a real estate agent and put her Lexus
SUV up for sale on eBay, hoping to sell it before the next $690 payment
is due Feb. 15.
Selling the two-bedroom condo, which was appraised at $400,000 several
years ago, is excruciating because her late husband was so happy there.
"It was like a chunk of my husband that I still had," Ebel said.
But if the condo fails to sell in the miserable Florida real estate
market, she cannot imagine what will happen.
To have any hope of making the $2,400-a-month payments on her house in
West Chester, she will have to get recertified as a nurse, go back to
work and take in a boarder, said Ebel, speaking with her hands to
illustrate her feeling that parts of her body are being torn away.
She has already sold small items to scrape dollars together: a Ping-Pong
table from her basement for $400, a painting for $1,500, jewelry for
When she got to Florida on Monday to work on selling the condo, she
remembered that she could return a $1,300 television to Costco.
Already last month, she returned thousands of dollars of items she had
paid for with her American Express card, including a $5,400 set of porch
furniture bought Dec. 9, a $5,000 club membership, and a $1,200 pair of
The first time she went to her local Publix supermarket in Florida after
Madoff's fraud came out, she had a new experience picking out cream for
Normally she would take whatever she wanted and put it in the cart, not
paying much attention to prices on such a small item. But that time, she
looked at the price of every single cream until she spotted a
two-for-one sale. "Ah! That's for me," she recalled.
Then she came to a big display of two-for-one canned goods. "I'm rooting
through the canned goods. What do I eat? Corn, I'll eat that. String
beans, I'll eat that. Two-for-one. This is what it is after having had
an income of $400,000 a year."
Ebel's uncle, 80, a longtime Madoff investor, got Ebel into Madoff's
fund after her husband's death, thinking he was setting her up for life,
Ebel said. "At that time, when he got me into Madoff, he had been a
Madoff investor for 25 years, and now he's a Madoff investor and broke
after 30 years," she said.
Ebel invested $4.5 million with Madoff starting in 2003. That was all of
her assets except for one $50,000 bond, which she cashed last month.
Ebel kept her monthly statements from Madoff (that, for all the world,
look real), collecting each year's in a separate folder. On the outside
of each folder Ebel wrote detailed summaries of the statements.
"When you look at the statements, which are probably all bogus, you can
see that he's just trading blue chips, Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft,
Coca-Cola, Wachovia, Abbott, Pfizer," said Ebel, showing an example from
December 2007. "I got one of these every single month, and without fail
I got my check every quarter."
In disgust, Ebel flipped through a 6-inch stack of transaction receipts
on supposed trades for her account.
Ebel, who has registered with the FBI as a Madoff victim and is
preparing documents to substantiate a claim, has decided that Madoff is
a sociopath. Asked what she would do if she were alone with him, she
said: "You can't print it."
She has suffered indignities, and kindnesses.
She was finally dating someone, but he is gone. "I wasn't the person I
was. I got up and went to work everyday," she said. "I was working six
days a week, and I'm tired when I get home."
On the other hand, a doctor who treated her for depression after her
husband's death found her a sleep aid that costs just $4 a month, Ebel
Getting a good night's sleep is a relief, but it has not cast off her
sense of irreality.
"Down in Florida, I live in this beautiful place, and I feel like an
alien walking around. Everyone is going riding their horses and playing
tennis, playing golf," Ebel said.
"If there's a nickel on the street, I'm picking it up."
Post by The Starmaker
Now, I find it an impossibility and inconcievable that Bernie will ever do a day in jail...
(from what I understand how the justice system in the U.S. works)
but there is a possibility that he'll die before the years end.
I would say within the next 3 months.
Either he kills himself, or somebody kills him first.
So how much you wanna bet (A Dead Pool)
that he doesn't live to see 90 days more?
I'm predicting that within 90 days he'll be dead.
I'm collecting a Dead Pool Hedge Fund. I'm calling it
"The Bernie Mardoff Dead Pool Hedge Fund". That means all the
other dead pools go into my dead pool fund.
He might jump
or get shot to death on Park Avenue...
90 days and he'll be dead.
So, if you want to get in on my Bernie Dead Pool,
it's by Invitation Only...
Post by The Starmaker
He needs a bullet proof vest covering his head
Don't put him is jail, Please.
Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker Post by The Starmaker
Need I say more?
He deserves at least *one* night in jail. Come on, is that too much to ask?
Come on, just one night...
Okay, I'll be reasonable, how about a couple of hours?
That's still too much. How about a minute for each billion?
Is that too much to ask?
50 minutes, come on!
Come on, he's a nice guy...he made a mistake, so what.
"The U.S. Government moved today to tighten the bail conditions of alleged financial fraudster Bernard Madoff,
eliminating a provision that allowed the man behind an alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme to "freely walk the streets"."
Whoa! The U.S. Government is getting tough now!! He cannot "freely walk the streets". He must be shaking in his boots...
That is really harsh.
And what do they mean by "The U.S. Government"? I want a person's name behind this atrocity!
Of course we all know he won't do a day in jail because that's an impossibility, inconcievable.
JANUARY 14, 2009, 6:32 P.M. ET
NEW YORK -- A federal judge denied another bid by prosecutors to jail disgraced financier Bernard Madoff pending trial.
You don't put a guy like this in jail....
you let him walk down Park Avenue, Central Park...
and let anybody that wants to, to shoot him.
It is much much better than our U.S. court system.
In otherwords, a death sentence.
It will make great TV two!
Think of the ratings!
The movie deals!
Of course Hollywood would have to get an Italian guy to play the role of Bernie Madoff...
They will probably change his name to Bernito Madoffa!!
FRIGHTENED BERNIE NOW BULLETPROOF
DONS VEST AS MOB RAGES ON PARK AVE.
Despite remaining free - albeit under house arrest -
there were several signs that Madoff's days and nights are consumed by fear that he'll be killed by one of his enraged investors.
Shoot for the head!