Bernie's Wife Bails

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2009; 9:30 AM

Get this: Ruth Madoff feels "betrayed" by her husband's heinous crimes. Welcome to the club, lady.

Is there anyone out there who wouldn't hope that Bernie Madoff could somehow serve every one of the 150 years to which he was sentenced yesterday?

Michael Jackson continues to be the hot story, but Madoff remains the symbol of a crooked financial system that did real harm to so many innocent people. While we have no way of holding Lehman or Bear or AIG accountable for utterly reckless conduct, Madoff is a person who knowingly ripped off the friends, clients, organizations and charities that were foolish enough to trust him and not question the impressive returns year after year.

So here comes Mrs. Madoff, who's lived a mighty nice life on the ill-gotten gains, issuing a statement that "the man who committed his horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years."

Translation: Don't blame me. Also, don't charge me.

"Not a day goes by when I don't ache over the stories that I have heard and read," she says. But she waited months to express that concern. And she was not so overcome by concern that she could go before the cameras, where victims were being interviewed, and deliver the remarks herself. No, it came through a carefully worded statement.

I suspect Ruth has a new PR adviser.

A judge has already stripped her of $80 million in assets, including the $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment, leaving her with $2.5 million. And she chooses now to say she's "embarrassed and ashamed" of the man who provided her with great wealth.

Did she have any inkling of what was going on? I'm not expecting Ruth Madoff to grant any interviews as she tries to draw a bit of public sympathy.

In case you missed this piece:

"She used to get foil highlights every six weeks -- her shade is Soft Baby Blonde, and she was religious about color -- but the last time she called her Manhattan salon, Pierre Michel on East 57th Street, she was told not to return. 'I understand,' she said, according to the salon's co-owner."

Or this one: As Ruth Madoff swept into Palm Beach last month with a quintet of girlfriends, her $7,500 Birkin bag dangling, her husband's 74-year-old sister, who was ruined by Bernie's scam, was watering plants and driving people to the airport just to make ends meet.

CONTINUED     1                 >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company