First it was the banks. Then AIG. Then Shittybank. Then the automakers. Now it’s the former millionaires created by Bernard Madoff.
One week ago, Ronnie Ambrosino was a millionaire.
One week ago I owed less on my student loans than I do now.
Now, Ambrosino is among the long list of investors whose fortunes were allegedly wiped out by Bernard Madoff. Like them, she’s left hoping for a bailout that might never come.
I’m hoping Sallie Mae forgives my student loans. And gives me a pony.
She plans to sue Madoff but that could take years to work through the courts and yield little in the end. Her best hope to recoup some of her money is from the Securities Investor Protection Corp., an industry-funded organization set up by the government to protect investors from fraud.
But, here’s the problem: SIPC does not have enough money to pay out all the claims that are sure to come from one of the biggest fraud cases to ever hit Wall Street. Securities attorneys say the organization has a reputation of being tough to squeeze money from, and each investor is only entitled to a maximum payout of $500,000 if a claim is approved.
Half a million bucks? Sign me up.
SIPC officials say the books of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC are in complete disarray and could take six months or more to piece them together. With bills piling up and her bank account vanishing, the one thing Ambrosino and others caught in the alleged $50 billion fraud don’t have is time.
“It feels like I’m drowning, and someone is saying ‘we’re going to save you, but we have to build the boat first,’” said Ambrosino, 55, who had $1.6 million invested with Madoff. “We can’t wait for SIPC to go through all the papers.”
Can you spell “entitlement”?
“There’s no doubt that hearings will be held on this, and some government aid is a very logical request,” said Robert Schachter, an attorney with New York-based Zwerling, Schachter & Zwerling, which is representing several Madoff victims. “If we’re bailing out Wall Street and the auto industry, maybe these individuals should be bailed out too.”
Um, no? Or maybe “fuck no.”
“It can take years,” said Leo Asaro, partner in the St. Louis office of law firm Bryan Cave LLP. “People need to think of other options, not waiting on these matters to wind their ways through the courts. It is not going to happen fast enough to get the relief that they need.”
They want their ponys NOW!
“It is way too early to speculate about the claims,” [SIPC President and Chief Executive Steve Harbeck] said. “We don’t know the number of customers, how much each is owed, and I don’t want to be prematurely alarmist.”
That’s not exactly what angry investors like Ambrosino want to hear. She used the money she thought was secure with Madoff to retire early, buy a luxury motor home, and travel around the country. The only assets she has now are the pieces of furniture inside the motor home she’s been making payments on for the past four years.
Now living in Surprise, Ariz., …
This shit writes itself.
… she felt helpless watching Madoff enter the court house Wednesday for a bail hearing. Ambrosino, who invested in Madoff’s firm some three decades ago, knows that others are in the same position.
“We need to get out there and get names and get unified so that we can go to the government and make our case,” she said. “Everybody has a horror story, everybody has bills, and everybody is devastated.”
I’m sure Henry Waxman is scheduling a hearing as I write this.