St. Thomas Aquinas High School, Monsignor On Madoff Victim List -- UPDATED

The full list of Bernie Madoff fraud victims has been released by the court and among them is St. Thomas Aquinas High, the football powerhouse private Catholic school in Fort Lauderdale.  

Listed as the representative for the St. Thomas account is Monsignor Vincent Kelly, who also is personally named as an investor in the $50 billion fraud. Kelly is the supervising principal at St. Thomas and has served as the curriculum director for the entire Archdiocese of Miami.

The Archdiocese of Miami has denied that it had any money invested with Madoff.

The amount of money lost by St. Thomas Aquinas and the Catholic Church leader isn't known.

UPDATED: The Sun-Sentinel is now reporting that Kelly denies that St. Thomas was a current investor. He says the school had invested with Madoff at one time, but that the account hasn't been active for 12 years.

To view the complete list -- which includes celebrities like Sandy Koufax, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, John Malchovich, the late John Denver, and others -- click here.

The high school recently received a pledge of $2.5 million from Fort Lauderdale philanthropist and long-time Madoff crony Michael Bienes, who, along with partner Frank Avellino, operate several funds named on the list. St. Thomas recently opened the Bienes Center for the Arts on the campus.

Monsignor Kelly and Bienes -- who converted from Judaism to Catholicism and was very active in the Archodiocese of Miami -- were long-time friends.

Bienes has poured an estimated $30 million into local philanthropic projects, including the Broward County Library, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, Holy Cross Hospital, the Museum of Art, and several other concerns. Since the scheme collapsed, he and wife Dianne have dropped out of Fort Lauderdale life and, sources say, emptied their Bay Colony estate of their possessions.

Bienes and Avellino were busted by the SEC in 1992 for selling $440 million in unregistered securites to 3,200 investors, all of which went to Madoff. The money was returned to the investors, but the two men simply steered most of them back to Madoff, through their own funds and through Fort Lauderdale associate Michael Sullivan, who has several different entities named on the list. Sullivan is a member of Christ Church First Methodist in Fort Lauderdale. The church and several of its members were also invested with Madoff through Sullivan.   

Also listed is a joint fund owned by the Bieneses called the "St. James Trust." The somewhat infamous Kenn Jordan Foundation, operated by Avellino and Bienes, is also named. Avellino's housekeeper for his $10 million estate on Nantucket has sued Avellino after losing her life savings in the Jordan fund.

While some believe Bienes was part and parcel of the fraud, he and his lawyers claim he is a victim of Madoff who has been ruined and was at one time put on "suicide watch." It is certain that he and Avellino lost millions when the scheme unraveled. For more about Bienes and his strange relationship with Fort Lauderdale, click here.  

In West Palm Beach, Seth Lipson, a certified public accountant, is listed as having several different funds with Madoff.  

Other Fort Lauderdale victims:

-- Jerry Guberman

-- Joseph Rogers Trust

-- Kelco Foundation Inc.

-- Lanny Rose

-- Lilian Marcus

-- Richard Shapiro CPA

-- Robert Plafsky, Courthouse Law Center

-- Stefanelli Investors Group


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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman