By Pallavi Gogoi, USA TODAY
NEW YORK The packages that Bernard Madoff mailed to family and friends while out on bail since his Dec. 11 arrest for allegedly conducting a massive securities fraud contained a lot more than cuff links and mittens, according to court documents released Wednesday.
Prosecutors seeking to have Madoff jailed said he violated his bail terms by mailing five packages to family and friends. They contained at least 15 watches, including two diamond Tiffany and Cartier watches, a diamond necklace, four diamond brooches and other jewelry.
Prosecutors said one package contained items worth at least $1 million. Attorney Mark Litt said Madoff’s $10 million bail should be revoked because he disobeyed a court order freezing his assets. The prosecutor also said Madoff poses a danger to the community by potentially causing additional economic harm to his victims, who may try to recover some of their losses from his assets. "The need for detention in this case is clear," Litt said.
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Madoff, who the government charges has admitted to committing one of the largest frauds in history in a $50 billion Ponzi scheme, mailed the packages while under house arrest in his $7 million Manhattan apartment.
Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin, downplayed the value of the mailed items at a Jan. 5 court hearing, when prosecutors first demanded that Madoff be sent to jail, saying the items included $25 cuff links and $200 mittens.
But prosecutors say he mailed to relatives these packages that have since been recovered:
worth at least $1 million contained 13 watches, a diamond necklace, an emerald ring and two sets of cuff links.
that between them contained a diamond Cartier watch, a diamond Tiffany watch, a diamond bracelet, a gold watch, four diamond brooches, a jade necklace and other jewelry.
The government said it didn’t know the contents of two other packages that were mailed to Madoff’s brother Peter and an unidentified family in Florida.
In a court filing late Wednesday, Sorkin argued that Madoff should remain free, Bloomberg News reported. "He simply did not realize that it pertained to personal items," Sorkin wrote of the freeze order. "To Mr. and Mrs. Madoff, the value of these items was purely sentimental."
Observers were surprised that Madoff would even consider mailing the packages while facing allegations of operating a $50 billion Ponzi scheme whose victims included financial institutions, foundations, charities and individual investors.
"It’s pretty ballsy," says Patrick Begos, founding partner of law firm Begos Horgan Brown. "It’s not much of a reach for a guy to think he’s above everything else when he can steal from charities and organizations he’s heavily involved with."
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