NEW YORK (Reuters) - Some friends of accused swindler Bernard Madoff considered him a “warm and charming” man, and one of his alleged victims praised him just before his death in 2005, Fox Business Network reported on Thursday.
“Enjoy every moment of your life and don’t take anything for granted,” the alleged con-man says in a video, which was aired on the cable TV network.
“But more importantly, take every day as it comes and look at every day as another new adventure in your life,” a smiling Madoff says in the birthday tribute to longtime friend and client, the New York real estate millionaire Norman Levy, who died in 2005 at the age of 93.
Madoff is under house arrest at his luxury Manhattan apartment after authorities said he confessed to a $50 billion Ponzi scheme over many years. He is charged with securities fraud but has not appeared in court to answer the criminal complaint. A Ponzi scheme is one in which early investors are paid off with the money of new clients.
On the undated video, which Fox did not say how it had obtained, Madoff and his wife Ruth are seen relaxing with Levy and his wife Betty and other family members.
Madoff appeared earlier on Thursday in a Manhattan courtroom, where U.S. prosecutors asked a judge to jail him after earlier agreeing to $10 million bail.
A clerk for Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis of U.S. District Court in Manhattan said the judge will issue a decision on Friday or Monday on the request to revoke Madoff’s bail.
According to Fox Business News, the Betty and Norman Levy Foundation reported assets in 2007 of $244 million. Of that, almost $30 million funded the Justice, Equality, Human Dignity and Tolerance (JEHT) Foundation. JEHT was wiped out by Madoff’s alleged Ponzi scheme, the network said.
“Several of Madoff’s close friends described him as warm and charming,” said the show’s presenter, David Asman. “As comfortable on the back of a luxury yacht, as he was...in a corporate boardroom doling out investment advice.”
Fox quoted Levy’s son Francis as saying his father loved Madoff. ”My father believed in Bernie Madoff, if he heard this today he would be rolling over in his grave.
“The one thing he said about Bernie is: ”If there’s one honorable person, it’s Bernie.’
“His last words on his deathbed were ‘Bernie Madoff, trust Bernie Madoff.'” said the younger Levy.
Fox noted that Madoff paid for a memorial notice in the New York Times when Levy died. It said: “Norman, my mentor and dear friend of 40 years...you taught me so much, I’ll cherish our relationship forever.”
Reporting by Steve James; Editing by Carol Bishopric