Madoff's Man

Fort Lauderdale multimillionaire Michael Bienes never cut ties with Bernie Madoff — even after the SEC shut him down.

"You want to know how it feels?" Stefanelli says. "How does it feel to be a rich, wealthy millionaire one day and the next day you have nothing or next to nothing?"

The 76-year-old Stefanelli also invested his children's money with Madoff, whom Bienes arranged for him to meet at the swindler's New York office in 1992 after the SEC action. He invested directly with Madoff, whom he says deserves to be treated like a murderer rather than allowed to stay out of jail on bond.

"My sons want to kill me right now, but my daughters are a little more understanding," he says. "My wife is ill, and I don't have much left. I have some property, but that's not easy to sell. I have enough for a few years, and I don't think I'll last much longer than that."

Through it all, he has faith that Bienes didn't knowingly lead him to desolation. But like everybody else, he can't be sure.

Contact the author:

Bob.Norman@BrowardPalmBeach.com.

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