Chapter 7

Insatiable Lust and Two of the Most Destructive Ponzi Schemes in American History

Temptation is the pull of man’s own evil thoughts and wishes.

James 1:13–14

No one asked questions.

That is, until FBI Agent Theodore Cacioppi arrived at the opulent penthouse at 133 E. 64th Street on the morning of December 11, 2008.

“We’re here to find out if there’s an innocent explanation.” Cacioppi said.

Cacioppi was struggling to understand how such a prominent, respected New York socialite could conceive of such a deviant Ponzi scheme.

“There is no innocent explanation,” Bernie Madoff replied, admitting in one statement that the last 20 years of his life had been a gigantic securities fraud.

In the ensuing weeks and months, Madoff’s face was tattooed all over CNN, CNBC, and the other major cable TV news networks. The man who had committed the most massive Ponzi scheme in world history was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Bernie Madoff was reduced to utter shame.

Peppered with insults from former angry investors, Madoff walked out of the New York Courthouse onto 500 Pearl Street, Kevlar bulletproof vest tightly secured to his chest, as he inhaled his last breaths of free air.

It wasn’t supposed to end like this. Bernie Madoff had spent a lifetime building his legitimate broker-dealer business and swindling investors on the side. In New York high-society circles, Bernie Madoff, wife Ruth, and his close family were charitable, well liked, and respected.

Madoff was a Wall Street pillar. ...

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