Investor alleges she was Madoff's 20-year mistress

August 14, 2009 8:45:50 PM PDT
Bernard Madoff's decades-long fraud might not have been his only secret. A new book says he had a two-decade affair with one of his investors. The memoir, "Madoff's Other Secret: Love, Money, Bernie, and Me," was written by Sheryl Weinstein, whose relationship with Madoff spanned more than 20 years while both were married, said John Murphy, a spokesman for publisher St. Martin's Press. It goes on sale Aug. 25.

Madoff, 71, is serving 150 years in prison for defrauding investors. Weinstein says she met him at a business meeting when she was chief financial officer for the charitable women's organization Hadassah, where she had a role in investment decisions.

Madoff attorney Ira Sorkin said he hopes the author "was more discreet with her investment obligations than she has allegedly been with her sex life."

An attorney for Madoff's wife, Ruth Madoff, said his client did not know about the "alleged affair." The attorney, Peter Chavkin, said the allegations were a powerful reminder to those who claim Ruth Madoff knew about her husband's massive Ponzi scheme "that there are some things that some spouses - however close they are - do not share with each other."

At Bernard Madoff's June sentencing, Weinstein was among investors to urge a long prison sentence for the financier, who admitted ripping off thousands of investors for billions of dollars for at least two decades. She said she viewed meeting him 21 years ago "as perhaps the unluckiest day of my life."

Weinstein said her investment losses had forced her to sell her Manhattan home and devastated her, her husband of 37 years, her son, her parents, her in-laws and everyone who depended on them. She called Madoff "that terror, that monster, that horror, that beast ... an equal-opportunity destroyer."

In her correspondence with the court, Weinstein made no mention of the affair, though she did write in a request to speak at sentencing that she wanted to address Madoff and the court because "I think the personal connection may be more difficult for him to ignore."

Her husband, Ron Weinstein, said in a June letter to the court that all the money the couple had saved was lost by Madoff and that their marriage was strained.

"My wife has been a basket case," he said, "and we are both very depressed."

The book has drawn fresh attention to Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America.

The organization has said its principal investment with Madoff totaled about $33 million, while another $7 million had been entrusted to Madoff after it was donated by a French backer in 1988. Hadassah did not return a telephone call for comment Friday.

The New York Times reported Friday that Hadassah's national president, Nancy Falchuk, told Hadassah's national board in a letter Thursday that the group was shocked to hear reports of Weinstein's affair.

Stanley Epstein, a Santa Monica, Calif., lawyer married to a Hadassah member, said Hadassah's treasurer told him after Madoff's December arrest that the organization had cashed in between $120 million and $130 million from its Madoff accounts over the years. The profits could make the organization a target of those seeking to recover money to be distributed to defrauded investors.

Epstein's wife, Harriet Epstein, said the book was sure to raise questions about Weinstein's role in the organization's investments.

"The fact that this woman had an affair and was on the committee that made decisions about investments makes no sense," Epstein said. "She obviously had a conflict of interest."

By Friday evening, the publicity about Weinstein's book had pushed its presale ranking on from No. 4,408 eight hours earlier to No. 1,415.

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