NEW YORK — Prosecutors probing Bernard L. Madoff's massive fraud are determined to leave his wife with almost nothing after telling a Manhattan court that they consider more than $100 million in assets, most of it listed in her name, to be the fruits of her husband's crimes.
The government even included a $39,000 Steinway piano and $65,000 in silverware, both owned by Ruth Madoff, in items it said it would try to force the Madoffs to forfeit. The list was in a three-page document filed in U.S. District Court late Sunday.
Brenda Sharton, a lawyer with a Boston firm representing several investors affected by the fraud, said the government's aggressive approach with Ruth Madoff wasn't surprising.
"I don't think it's unusual . . . given the magnitude of the fraud," Sharton said. "It would be unusual if they didn't go after whatever assets they can get."
Bernard Madoff, 70, has been living in a small cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan since he pleaded guilty Thursday to securities fraud, perjury and nine other charges. He could be sent to prison for as many as 150 years at a June sentencing.
If prosecutors get their way, the Madoffs will have to give up all their assets, including three properties listed solely in Ruth Madoff's name: a $7-million Manhattan penthouse bought in 1984; an $11-million Palm Beach, Fla., home purchased in 1994; and a $1-million home in Cap d'Antibe, France. A $3-million home bought in 1979 in Montauk, N.Y., is jointly owned by the couple.