Ruth Madoff Should Keep Her Millions

Bernie's wife is innocent. Do people want her to suffer just because she's rich?

Ruth Madoff has been all over the TV lately, ostensibly begging for redemption but, in reality, pitching a new book, Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family, written by Laurie Sandell. Sandell interviewed Ruth, Ruth’s son Andrew, and his fiance, Catherine Hooper, at length for the book. They were interviewed on 60 Minutes a few nights ago. Hmm, this should be good, I thought. Might be fun to watch the wife of that lowlife squirm a little. I sat down with my predisposed ideas and turned on the TV.

Surprisingly, I came away actually feeling bad for her and her family, and I discussed it with some friends the next day. Some had seen the show and some had not, but still, there was an overall sense that if Ruth didn’t know, she should have. Either way, the general consensus was that she should be left penniless for the sins of her husband. Really? Harsh, don’t you think?

The arguments I heard are that she must have known what her husband was up to but, remember, this guy is an uber-scumbag who wouldn’t exactly come home advertising that he was a thief. Her sons must have known, they argue. I guess that’s why they turned him in themselves and the older son, Mark, committed suicide. Andrew, who was a legitimate trader in a business owned by his father but held entirely separate from Dad’s Ponzi scheme, is being sued for every penny of income he made over the last 10 years.

Ruth was allowed to keep $2.5 million, which she is not entitled to, so let’s vilify her for being allowed to keep some dough. This is a woman who has no means of support, did nothing wrong and, not to be crass, but $2.5 million to a billionaire is like kicking me to the curb with a tuna fish sandwich. Ms. Hooper will, unlike the Madoffs, be able to earn a profit from the sale of the book. Well, why shouldn’t she? She has a story to tell, and she’s standing by a guy who is being sued for more than 70 million bucks! She was no more involved in Madoff’s treachery than you or I, and she’s close enough to share information that people just might want to read. I hope she makes a bundle.

It’s not curious to me that people want to see Bernard Madoff suffer for his crimes. For stealing from families, charitable organizations, hospitals and individuals who lost everything, he is deserving of the worst kind of punishment. I am stunned, however, to hear the level of vengefulness directed toward people who, after an exhaustive and thorough investigation, were cleared of any wrongdoing. People that, I believe, are innocent of anything other than being rich. Maybe, for some, that’s crime enough.