Bernard Madoff's daughter-in-law doesn't want her children to have to live with the embarrassment of carrying his tarnished surname: She has filed papers in Manhattan Supreme Court to change her last name, and that of her two children, to Morgan.
"Petitioner wishes to avoid additional embarrassment, harassment and endangerment associated with the name 'Madoff' by changing my last name to 'Morgan,' " said court papers filed by Stephanie Madoff, 35, who is married to Bernard Madoff's son, Mark. The filing also indicates that her husband does not object to the name change for his family, which includes Stephanie, their daughter Audrey, 3, and their son Nicholas, who just celebrated his first birthday on Feb. 13.
Stephanie Madoff says she is concerned for her children's safety, and in the court papers mentions the threats of bodily harm she and her family have received since the Ponzi scheme became public knowledge in late 2008. She had asked for the papers to be sealed to avoid publicity about the name change, but obviously, that effort has been unsuccessful.
Madoff Relatives' Assets Restricted
Bernard Madoff is serving 150 years in prison for conning investors out of $65 billion in history's largest Ponzi scheme. His wife agreed to forfeit most of her assets, but other family members still hold on to their millions. How much Picard will ultimately collect from Madoff's relatives is up to the courts.
While Mark Madoff worked at Bernard Madoff's investment firm, he has not been charged with any crime. But earlier this month he and his brother Andrew agreed to restrict movement of their personal assets, not incur debt of more than $1,000 and give a monthly accounting of their expenses.
Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Bernard Madoff's estate and the man looking for funds to repay harmed investors, sued Mark and Andrew Madoff, as well as Bernard's brother Peter and niece Shana Madoff Swanson in October, claiming they had spent $199 million of the victims' money. Picard says they used the investment firm as their personal piggy bank.
The Madoff family members answered in court papers that they deny Picard's allegations, and they are disputing his right to restrict their assets, but they consented to the asset freeze to avoid the costs and expenses of the immediate dispute.
Will Former Employees' Evidence Implicate Other Madoffs?
So far, only two people in addition to Madoff have pleaded guilty to crimes associated with the scam. David Friehling, the longtime auditor for Madoff who was the first person charged after his boss in the epic Ponzi scheme, pleaded guilty in November 2009 to charges that are punishable by up to 108 years in prison. It is unclear whether he plans to reveal what he knows in a bid to get leniency and a reduction of his jail time.
Frank DiPascali, the former chief financial officer for Bernard Madoff's firm, pleaded guilty in August. He's cooperating with prosecutors and hoping for leniency, but faces a maximum of 125 years on charges of conspiracy, securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, investment adviser fraud, two counts of falsifying the books of a broker dealer, international money laundering, perjury and federal income tax evasion.
Prosecutors are likely looking to these two men for information that could implicate Madoff's family members, but, as of now, none have been charged in connection with the Ponzi scheme.
Madoff No More: Daughter-in-Law Seeks Name Change