Crime, punishment, and the shame of being a Madoff

The following script is from "Madoff" which aired on October 30, 2011. Morley Safer is the correspondent. Deirdre Naphin Curran, producer. Madoff...It is a name that will live in infamy...It's been nearly three years since Bernard Madoff confessed to running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme - the largest financial fraud in history. Thousands of trusting clients who felt safe investing with a financial genius were swindled. He hadn't invested a penny. While Madoff is serving 150 years in prison, his family has had to deal with the consequences of his crimes. His wife Ruth, divested of most of her great wealth - and derided by a suspicious world. Their son Mark - dead. Driven to suicide by shame and accusations of guilt. Their other son Andrew isolated - trying to live with the disgrace. Are they innocent or were they willing partners? For the first time since Bernie Madoff's arrest, his son Andrew and wife Ruth speak out about crime, punishment and the shame of being a Madoff. Morley Safer: It's a tough name to live with. Ruth Madoff: It sure is. Ruth Madoff... Safer: Do you feel the shame? Ruth: Of course I feel the shame. I can barely walk down the street without worrying about people recognizing me. And Andrew Madoff... Andrew Madoff: From the very beginning of this whole episode-- I've had absolutely nothing to hide. And I've been eager, I would say almost desperate to speak out publicly and tell people that I'm absolutely not involved. Andrew and Ruth Madoff speak out in the book "Truth and Consequences"- a more or less tell-all arranged by Andrew's fiancee Catherine Hooper. An attempt to separate the family from the father's crimes. Safer: Is it dismaying for you that no matter what you say people aren't going to believe you? Catherine Hooper: I think in many ways it is dismaying, but public opinion has to be something that doesn't matter to us. What matters to us is the truth. Safer: It's really hard for people to believe that you didn't know, that you must have Continue Reading

The Confederate flag resurged. The KKK burned a cross. Racial tensions flared in a Southern town.

Dexter Trogdon Jr. poses for a portrait in the shadow of a Confederate statue at the Randolph County Courthouse in Asheboro, N.C., in December. Asheboro has experienced an uptick in racial tension. (Andy McMillan/For The Washington Post) ASHEBORO, N.C. — The first unpleasant tug of history came before the election, when the yards around Dexter Trogdon Jr.’s house started blooming with Confederate flags. Then last spring, the Ku Klux Klan announced plans to burn a cross in town. A man apparently irked with his black neighbor hung a noose in his yard, and Trogdon started hearing a disturbing new view from some white people: that slavery wasn’t so bad for African Americans. The 49-year-old bail bondsman knew racial division would be part of the picture when he moved back to this rural, majority-white town where he grew up. But there was one factor he did not expect: the presidential election. “We were actually getting better,” said Trogdon, picking at his egg whites and fruit at David’s Restaurant, a throwback diner here, noting that the city had been making strides toward improving race relations. Until a year ago, when racism and bigotry seemed to rush out of the woodwork, especially here, in the South. “That stuff came to a halt. ... If you live here, you can feel it. It’s just the way people treat you every day.” More than a year after President Trump took office, many people of color are coming to terms with what his presidency has exposed, and what it has wrought, on matters of race. Some white supremacists and white nationalists have seen the administration’s first year as emboldening, leading them to hold rallies like the deadly August gathering of Trump-supporting neo-Nazis in Charlottesville or those in Portland, Ore., that preceded a fatal commuter train attack by a white man who was spouting anti-Muslim hatred at minority passengers. About US is a newsletter. Sign up here. For many people of Continue Reading

Why downtown Des Moines isn’t as grown up as it wants us to believe

Last week, Tom Zmolek admonished Des Moines denizens to "grow up" when it comes to parking.Zmolek is president of the Historic Court District Association. His words appeared in a giant, three-deck headline atop business reporter Joel Aschbrenner's story about perceived parking issues in downtown Des Moines.Zmolek said "Midwesterners in general, and Iowans specifically, feel like they should be able to drive up to whatever place they're going and park right in front of it."Downtown Des Moines has become so cosmopolitan that such luxuries no longer exist.Patrons of downtown restaurants, bars and especially the vaunted new Hy-Vee should expect to walk a few blocks, just the way people do in big cities like Chicago, Minneapolis and so on.Accepting this new reality of hauling your groceries four or five blocks to a parking spot is apparently a sign we are growing up and becoming that magical place where young people with disposable income will want to live forever and ever, amen.Zmolek is correct. Bigger cities are less convenient, but this shouldn't be a point of pride nor a benchmark of "growing up" in the capital city.I don't mean to pick on Zmolek. His job is to promote downtown, particularly the Court Avenue area, a job he does well. A rational person could hardly argue against a strong and vibrant city core.Court Avenue today is immeasurably better than it was when I was a boy.The Court Avenue from my childhood was sleazy hotels, bail bond offices, a couple of so-so restaurants and a handful of rough-and-tumble bars.It wasn't a place decent people spent much time.Now, it's a lively place with restaurants and bars for a broad range of tastes. There's trails for bikes, runners and walkers. People live in high-rise condos, lofts and other apartments.And most recently, Court Avenue is home to the single most pretentious Hy-Vee in the chain's history, with amenities that include the essentials such as a 12-tap "growler station," and, as Register reporter Patt Johnson Continue Reading

Hang tight, Big Mama is coming

Michelle Lodree says Big Mama's was a joke. Or started off as one, at least. But Lodree, owner of Big Mama's Bail Bonding, isn't a joke today.In 2009 Lodree was in Memphis when a friend's mother called panicked, asking Lodree to help to get her son and another man out of jail in Jackson. The family didn't know anyone else who could help.Lodree jumped to the task, gathering what was required by her friend's hired bondsman. Lickety-split, they did the paperwork and handed over the friends-and-family-funded $3,000 bond fee. But the bondsman took her sweet time processing the paperwork while the clients sat in jail. Lodree missed a day of work for the endeavor."If someone gave me $3,000 I would be like, 'I'm on my way. See you later. Zoom.' I was thinking, 'What's going on, what's wrong with Big Mama? How come Big Mama ain't moved with this money and paperwork?'""Big Mama" was a pet name Lodree gave the lackadaisical bondsman."After that I was like, I need to be Big Mama."And since 2010, she has been.Don't make Big Mama come looking Lodree tells of a client whom we will call Alex, delinquent and missing his court dates. Such behavior puts a bondsman on the spot to pay the defendant's entire bond. While getting her hair done at a new salon in Clinton for the first time, Lodree, resting with a robe on, her head back and full of shampoo, opened her eyes and was stunned to see Alex walking through the door. They'd been looking for him. And of all the joints in Mississippi, there he was. Lodree tried not to jump out of her seat and say, "Gotcha." She discreetly called one of her male employees and, despite the evening traffic from Pearl to Clinton and the fact that Alex was only at the salon for a quick cleanup in his existing cut, Big Mama was able to get her man.The colleague showed up in a red Corvette, which attracted Continue Reading

Preschool owner, who stole federal lunch money, unleashes devious plan in hopes of fleeing the big house

A preschool owner who stole federal lunch money grants has been gorging on junk food behind bars — and a judge says he’s doing it to intentionally worsen his health in a bid for freedom. Ziming Shen, 54, was convicted in April 2012 of using his Red Apple Child Development Center and day care centers to steal money earmarked for needy children — but his bail was revoked last September after he allegedly planned to flee to China. Since then, Shen has been binging on sugar like a 6-year-old on Halloween. His bad habits have aggravated his diabetes and tooth decay, Federal Judge Dora Irizarry said — and she refused to spring him. In a dramatic, Perry Mason-like moment in Brooklyn Federal Court Friday, prosecutor Robert Capers produced Shen’s high-carb shopping list at the jail commissary: sticky buns, Chips Ahoy cookies, chocolate wafers, candy, nachos, potato chips, rice. Irizarry took issue with another item on Shen’s shopping list. “Ramen soup, which is all noodles, and it eventually becomes sugar,” she said. The judge’s concern went beyond Shen’s diet. “Mr. Shen has aggravated his own condition, manipulated his own condition in order to manipulate the court to release him,” Irizarry said tartly, denying Shen’s request for bail. “Mr. Shen has been jeopardizing his own health with the thought that he could be released,” she continued. “I suggest, Mr. Shen, that you follow the advice of your doctors and stop playing games with your health.” Shen and wife Joanne Fan were charged in 2011 with using their chain of schools and day care centers as a personal piggy bank. They pleaded guilty last year to stealing $2.2 million in federal funds. Shen faces 37 to 46 months in prison when he’s sentenced in August. Defense lawyer Enrico DeMarco insisted that his client wasn’t pulling a scam with Continue Reading

Why is Anna Gristina, the Soccer Mom Madam, still facing $2 million bail?

The  Blind Lady of Justice is being pimped out. On Thursday in Florida, a judge granted $150,000 bail for George Zimmerman, who is charged with the murder of Trayvon Martin. Last week, a career criminal named Ivan Ramos was arrested after allegedly raping, sodomizing and robbing a young woman in a stairwell in Greenwich Village. Facing 15 years, an obvious flight risk and a clear threat to the community, Ramos was given $300,000 bail. Meanwhile, Anna Gristina, the so-called Soccer Mom Madam and married mother of four, has been held on $2 million bond since Feb. 22 on a nonviolent charge of promoting prostitution. This is a Class D felony that usually means probation and carries a maximum sentence of two to seven years. “It’s absurd and absolute hypocrisy,” says Kelvin Gorr, the husband of Gristina, who has been holding the family — including a 9-year-old boy — together. “I have absolutely no idea how violent criminals get that kind of bail while my wife sits in Rikers on $2 million bail. The kids ask me the same questions. Nicholas, who’s only 9, cries all the time, aching for his mom, asking why she's being treated like some monster. Nicholas has nightmares about his mom. It’s doing damage to him psychologically.” I tell Gorr that two weeks ago five male hotel clerks were charged by the Queens DA with the same exact crime as Gristina for allegedly steering johns to hookers in two hot-sheets motels. All five were all released on their own recognizance, without posting a dime in bail. “There’s an obvious double standard,” Gorr says. “There’s a separate justice system for Anna that I don’t understand. It's not part of the American justice system that I know.” Asked about George Zimmerman being granted $150,000 bail for the most celebrated murder in recent memory, Gorr said, “This is another case I’ll have to try to justify to the kids. Continue Reading

Six in 10 Delaware inmates are black

More than 200 children are locked behind bars in Delaware – and 76 percent of them are black. In Delaware’s prisons, African-Americans make up 56 percent of inmates.Yet only 22 percent of the state’s population is black.Teens who have had run-ins with police or spent time in prison told The News Journal that it feels like the system is stacked against them. And some see a stint in prison as an inevitability – at least once in their lifetimes.“That is how the world operates,” one teen said last week, leaning back in a bean bag chair at the Youth Empowerment Center on Sycamore Street in Wilmington.Added another: “If I was white, it would be different."Leo E. Strine Jr., chief justice of the Delaware Supreme Court, is alarmed by the disproportionate number of African-Americans imprisoned statewide. He's created a committee of prosecutors, public defenders, judges, law enforcement officials, community members and academics to explore why the system appears to be so far out of sync.“The numbers are shocking,” said Bartholomew J. Dalton, a Wilmington lawyer and the committee’s co-chair.  “What it looks like is we are incarcerating a generation of young black men. How is that going to work out?”What the numbers don’t show is why these disparities exist. Some blame it on police strategies that target city neighborhoods where more African-American men live. Some claim judges disproportionately send minorities to prison. Others say the root of the problem is cyclical poverty and shortcomings in education.“We are all caught up in this sticky web of injustice,” said Yasser Payne, a committee member and professor at the University of Delaware who released The People's Report in 2013 after researching violence in Wilmington. “There is a part of the system that is institutionally racist.”The disparities play out every day on the streets Continue Reading

‘Survivor’ season 23 ep.9 recap: Cochran enjoys Upolu’s protective spirit, Dawn and Jim pose big threats

The South Pacific is chock full of wiley creatures, but on this week's "Survivor," the former Upolu tribe members were most concerned with rhinos and snakes - of the metaphorical human kind. That would be blunt-force rhino Jim, and supposedly scheming serpent Dawn, to be clear. But before the now in-power Upolu members could name their animals, the hurting Savaii tribe had to grit their teeth and lick their wounds. After a crazy tribal council, what's left of the former Savaii tribe - Whitney, Dawn, Jim and Ozzy - is none too happy with backstabber Cochran, who last week jumped ship to join forces with Coach's religious warriors. Immediately afterward, Ozzy takes it upon himself to pull Cochran aside, ominously telling everyone else that he "just wants to talk to Cochran alone." The Harvard law student tries to defend his decision to bail on Savaii by arguing that after being an avid fan for 11 years, he couldn't bear to let his fate come down to stones. Mid-conversation, Little Hantz wanders over to make sure no shenanigans are being had. "We're not gangsters here," Ozzy scoffs - though the way Jim and Whitney line up to take their turn at bashing Cochran seems to prove otherwise. "You disgust me," Whitney spits at Cochran. chance of reconciliation, then? As the shunned Savaii kid scurries over to his newfound island family, Coach is busy celebrating his strong six's victory - in his own way. That is, with a walk on the beach, plenty of praying, and a little tai-chi. Cochran, meanwhile, tells his new master - er, leader - that he wants to see Jim voted out for "personal" reasons. Namely, spite and revenge. Cochran enjoys his new standing with the former Upolu tribe, even donning Rick's hat and Coach's shirt. (Monty Brinton/CBS) Unfortunately for him, at the first immunity challenge of the night, Jim ultimately snags the immunity necklace after Sophie loses her lead (and her appetite) in a coconut-water spitting competition. Ozzy, fearing for his island life Continue Reading

Jersey Boy Bernard Kerik goes from top cop to common crook

The NYPD is at its best when protecting the President and it was doubly dazzling Tuesday with the sun glinting off cops' shields and collar brass. To look at our city's shining Finest was to wonder how it was possible that a man who once commanded them was even then being consigned to jail. Few people have fallen as far as Bernard Kerik, the one-time police commissioner who landed in Westchester's county jail after a federal judge revoked his bail on corruption charges. Where Kerik should be lodged is the city jail downtown once named the Bernard B. Kerik Complex. Not even Boss Tweed had a jail named after him before he landed in a cell. Kerik came to us from New Jersey, and his ticket to prominence was as one of Rudy Giuliani's bodyguards during a mayoral campaign. Giuliani made Kerik correction commissioner, then police commissioner on the theory that if you elevate people far beyond their expectations they will be fiercely loyal to you. Kerik proved to be loyal to nobody, not even the thousands who perished at the World Trade Center on 9/11, while he was commissioner. At the edge of The Pit the murdered innocent made holy, Kerik used an apartment set aside for recovery workers to tryst with his mistress, publisher Judith Regan. Kerik's only allegiance was to himself. His self-regard was so inflated he is said to have had 7-pound busts made of himself to give as gifts. He imagined himself a big shot, but he was not making big-shot money, so he took free renovations on his apartment from people who did business with the city. You can take the boy out of Jersey, but you can't take Jersey out of the boy. That got him indicted. He made $500,000 bond and apparently continued to feel the rules did not apply to him. Judge Stephen Robinson was of another opinion when he determined that Kerik had leaked court documents that were under seal. Robinson remanded Kerik, rightly summing him up as a "toxic combination of self-minded focus Continue Reading

STORY WITH LEGS. Barber saga has quite a run

Thanks Tiki. Boxing promoter Don King used to refer to it as "feeding the seals." And yet all it took was Tiki Barber tossing out one measly crumb in a New York Times story, in which he said "nothing" would make him reconsider retiring after this season, for all the pigeons to descend. Man, that was some meal. Sparse, but tasty. The feedbag lasted 10 days, nourishing reporters, columnists and radio yackers. Barber - on his own radio show - supplied the dessert by tossing the word "idiots" into the mix. This was all so enjoyable. Especially during a rather blah news cycle. Let's face it, if the Mets had made it to the World Series, the story of Barber's retirement - something he's talked about for more than a year - would have quickly fizzled. That did not happen. The accusations and innuendos made for compelling theater of the absurd. Now that things have quieted down - I think - there are some esteemed media members who want to thank Barber, too. And I can only imagine how they would do it. ESPN's Michael Irvin would like to says "thanks" to Barber for getting him all this attention. Irvin has not received this much play since his days of fronting for Terrell Owens. Think about it. All Irvin had to do was call Barber a "quitter" and suddenly the ex-Cowboy leeched onto the story. Mr. Irvin may have other reasons for unleashing all this venom. Like maybe he's afraid of Barber taking his job. Then there's the Daily News' Gary Myers. He also would like to offer a big thank you. If Barber did not lay diss on him, the veteran football scribe would never have been immortalized in a Friday back-page caricature by Ed (Ski) Murawinski. Myers never looked so good, although Ski was generous in the triceps department. Mike (Kennel Keeper) Francesa also offers his thanks. Last Sunday, Barber provided him with almost one hour's worth of material. The story allowed the talkie to operate at his condescending/patronizing worst all last week. There was no need for Continue Reading