If investors can't get their money back from Bernie Madoff, who is sitting in jail, why not go after the rest of the family and see what they have in their bank accounts? Several media reports say that the court-appointed trustee in the case, Irving Picard, will sue Madoff's brother, niece, and two sons for $198 million.
The first report of the suits came during an interview on 60 Minutes. The suit will allege that the family members breached their fiduciary responsibilities. The suit presupposes that the people being sued should have known about the scheme. Their defense will almost certainly be that they had no idea what was going on.
As the accusations and denials move to the courts, the case is likely to be a long one. It may take a good deal of investigative work to determine what exactly the various Madoff family members knew. It would seem logical that if the proof of their guilt was easy to come by, federal officials would have brought criminal charges long ago.
It appeared, at least for a short time, that the Madoff scandal would move off the front pages.
Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.