Investors in $32.6M Ponzi Scheme Win Only Camaraderie; Bank Not Liable
Posted Jan 20, 2009 1:19 PM CST
By Martha Neil
As in Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme, Bradford Bleidt stole $32.6 million by persuading those with social ties to give him money to "invest." In Bleidt's case, his victims were fellow Masons in the Boston area who typically had saved money for years while working at blue-collar jobs.
An effort to recoup some of their claimed losses was defeated, at least for now, when a federal jury in Boston determined last month that the plaintiffs' own negligence was to blame, derailing an attempt to hold liable the Boston-based bank where Bleidt kept his business accounts. However, many of Bleidt's victims have formed a close bond, which eases the sting a bit as they commiserate together, the Boston Globe reports today.
Similarly, news that more sophisticated investors are accusing Madoff of swindling them of vast sums also makes those who say they lost their life savings by giving the money to Bleidt feel a bit better.
"You go from thinking you're a dummy because it happened to you, to seeing how it happened to all these rich people," says Mike Tenney, 57, a former plant manager for Sunburst Foods who is now disabled. "Even some of these big banks were cheated out of their money."
A lawyer for the victims of Bleidt, who is now serving an 11-year term in federal prison, plans to appeal the jury verdict that Sovereign Bank didn't have any reason to suspect, from the third-party checks that he deposited, that something was amiss and act to rectify the situation, according to an earlier Boston Globe article written at the time of the verdict.
Bleidt's scheme operated between 2000 and 2004, the article says.