Attorney gets first Madoff jailhouse interview

July 29, 2009 10:43:25 PM PDT
Convicted swindler Bernie Madoff did not do it alone, according to one of the Burlingame attorneys who spent four and a half hours interviewing Madoff Tuesday.

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Joe Cotchett is back from the North Carolina prison where he got the first jail house interview with Madoff.

Madoff granted the interview to try and protect his wife and family members by saying he acted alone. The attorney's Madoff's family and they say there are plenty of others who should've known.

Inside North Carolina's Butner Prison, Madoff spent hours detailing how he orchestrated the largest Ponzi fraud in history all by himself.

"When I walked out of that prison I turned to Nancy and said to Nancy, 'can you believe what you just heard,' and her words were 'no,'" Cotchett said.

Cotchett says he was stunned by how simple Madoff's scheme was and how he got away with it for so long.

"What we know now as a result of yesterday's interview is that, since 1995, and we know exactly now how he did it, he never traded a stock, he never traded a single stock," Cotchett said.

Cotchett intends to go after the investment advisors who were funneling money to Madoff and should've checked.

"If I go to you and give you my money to invest, and they turn around and give it to Bernie, don't you think you have a duty to make sure that Bernie is legitimately trading the stocks," Cotchett said.

In San Mateo, Madoff victim Cliff Bernie wonders where the federal regulators at the Security and Exchange Commission were.

"According to Madoff, regulators only needed to look in the right place to see how he was screwing up," Bernie said.

The San Mateo yardage dealers says if regulators had just asked to see Madoff's stock certificates, they would have realized there were not any to be seen.

"So what were they doing and what are they doing," Bernie asked.

Bernie does not hold out much hope that he will see a significant return from future lawsuits against investment advisors. He also does not have much sympathy for those advisors who are also among Madoff's victims.

"Yeah, yeah I think they should pay sure, you signed on to do this job, if you're going to do a job do it right; that's what I learned when I was growing up," Bernie said.

Bernie says he has done a couple of dozen interviews as a Madoff victim. In an odd twist, all the publicity has saved his business.

But the lead plaintiff in Cotchett's lawsuit is much more typical. She is a 70-year-old retired school teacher from Foster City. She lost $6 million that she inherited from her husband, and is now looking for work as a substitute teacher.

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