Justice Department Tells Buchanan Bernie Madoff Victims About to be Compensated
Florida Has 2nd Highest Number of Victims
WASHINGTON — Responding to inquiries from Congressman Vern Buchanan, the U.S. Justice Department said it will begin compensating the victims of scam artist Bernie Madoff within the next few months.
Buchanan, who complained about the slow compensation from a fund created five years ago, said he received a letter this week from Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd stating the DOJ is “poised to issue initial distributions from the Assets Forfeiture Fund by the end of 2017.”
Boyd said in his letter “these distributions will represent the largest return of forfeited funds to victims in the history of the Department’s asset forfeiture program.”
The notification came in response to a letter Buchanan sent Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this year urging him to expedite payments for those defrauded by Madoff.
“These victims, many of whom are from Sarasota and Southwest Florida, were cheated out of their security and life savings,” Buchanan said, noting the Ponzi scheme also affected charities and retirement funds for police and firefighters. “I’m pleased the Justice Department is finally taking action to help these victims but it should have happened much sooner.”
Madoff’s victims have yet to receive a penny from the $4 billion victims fund created five years ago by the Justice Department. Meanwhile, the firm responsible for distributing the money has been paid $39 million.
Florida is home to the second-largest number of Madoff victims after New York, where the investment company was based. As reported by the Miami Herald, according to Madoff’s client list, nearly one in five of his customers hailed from Florida.
Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges in 2009 and is currently serving a 150-year sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina.