Trustee targets Madoff's sons

For months, many of Bernie Madoff victims have loudly questioned the government's refusal to target the famous schemer's family. It now seems that they are about to get their wish.

Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee in charge of recouping money from Madoff is, allegedly, planning to file civil complaints against Madoff's sons and brother. Citing $30 million that Bernie loaned to his sons, as well as a home that one son bought for $6.5 million in cash, the complaint will apparently seek more than $50 million from the family.In the end, it is impossible to quantify exactly how much the Madoff boys knew about their father's nefarious deeds. Given that Mark and Andrew Madoff were in charge of the trading division of their father's company and his brother Peter was its chief compliance officer, it is hard to imagine that the three could have been completely ignorant of the schemes being hatched on the 17th floor of New York's "Lipstick building." Still, some have suggested that Bernie was convinced of his sons' incompetence and carefully left them in the dark.

What is beyond doubt is that Mark and Andrew Madoff definitely benefited from their father's largesse. In what has become one of the most famous examples of Bernard's attempts to distribute his assets while under house arrest, he sent his sons three premium watches -- a Paul Newman Rolex Daytona, a Piaget, and a Cartier Tank watch -- as Hanukkah gifts. According to Vanity Fair writer David Margolick, the timepieces were accompanied by a note, which read: "Dear Mark + Andy, If you can bear to keep these watches, they are given with my love. If not, give them to someone who might. Love, Dad."

Given that Madoff's sons have yet to visit him in prison, it would appear that his attempt at reconciliation failed. For that matter, it is odd that he sent three watches to two sons. While there might have been some sort of understanding between the Madoffs, it also seems possible that he was attempting to generate a potentially productive sibling rivalry between Mark and Andrew. If they were fighting over watches, after all, either of them might be driven toward the fatherly bosom in search of comfort.

In the end, however, this is all speculation, as is much of the discussion of the inner workings of the Madoff family. Perhaps the entire feud is a scam, designed to protect the sons while Bernie takes all the blame and dies behind bars. Alternately, the world may be witnessing the final act in a family betrayal of epic dimensions. Regardless, one thing is for sure: the people that Madoff defrauded -- and their lawyers -- are working to ensure that the Madoff kids don't benefit from their father's crimes.
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