Bernard Madoff would be stripped of all his possessions under a $171 billion forfeiture order handed down only days before prosecutors seek to put the disgraced financier away in prison for the rest of his life.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin entered the preliminary order Friday, ruling that Madoff must give up his interests in all property, including real estate, investments, cars and boats.
The forfeiture represents the total amount that could be connected to Madoff's fraud, not the amount stolen or lost, and the order made clear that nothing prevents other departments or entities from seeking to recover additional funds.
A call to Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, after hours Friday was not immediately returned. In a court filing in March, Sorkin said the government's forfeiture demand of $177 billion was "grossly overstated — and misleading — even for a case of this magnitude."
The 71-year-old Madoff pleaded guilty in March to charges that his exclusive investment advisory business was actually a massive Ponzi scheme. Federal prosecutors say Madoff orchestrated perhaps the largest financial swindle in history.
Acting U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin, who released a copy of the order Friday night, plans to seek a 150-year prison term at Madoff's sentencing Monday. Sorkin has argued in court papers for a 12-year term.
According to Friday's order, the government also settled claims against Madoff's wife. Under the arrangement, the government obtained Ruth Madoff's interest in all property, including more than $80 million-worth that she had claimed was hers, prosecutors said. The order left her $2.5 million in assets.