Madoff wife 'paralyzed' when she heard of US scheme

WASHINGTON, Oct 28, 2011 (AFP) - Bernard Madoff's wife felt "paralyzed" when she learned he would soon be arrested for a massive Ponzi scheme, but the couple went to a Christmas party the night before to keep up appearances.

In an interview with the CBS News magazine "60 Minutes" to air on Sunday, Ruth Madoff described the day she learned that her husband had carried out the greatest scam in Wall Street history and would soon be arrested.

"I just simply don't remember every detail. I was in such a state," she said in excerpts of the interview released Thursday.

But the couple later attended an office Christmas party in order to reassure Madoff's employees.

"He phoned me from the office and said, 'We have to go to the office Christmas party.' So I got myself together and went over there.

"We stayed a half an hour. And we just went home. And the next morning, the FBI was there to arrest him about 7:00 am," she said.

In separate excerpts from the same interview released earlier, Ruth Madoff revealed that she and her husband had tried unsuccessfully to commit suicide, taking a handful of sedatives and other pills only to wake up the next day.

Bernard Madoff, 73, was arrested in December 2008 after his Ponzi scheme collapsed and is currently serving a 150-year prison term.

Madoff claimed to have grown investors' money to some $60 billion, but most of that was fictitious, resulting from a decades-long scheme in which he skimmed clients' principal to pay phony returns.

His victims included charities, major banks, Hollywood moguls and savvy financial players.

Madoff's son Mark Madoff committed suicide last year on the second anniversary of his father's arrest.

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