By PHILLIP BANTZ
The Keene Sentinel: June 30, 2009
Knowing that Bernard L. Madoff will spend the rest of his life in prison provides no solace for Barbara G. Moore, a former Keene resident living in New Mexico, who was left in financial ruins along with thousands of other investors who trusted the once-powerful Wall Street broker.
Madoff, 71, was sentenced Monday to 150 years in prison for bilking investors out of at least $13 billion with the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
He pleaded guilty in March to 11 felony charges of securities fraud, theft and money laundering.
A Ponzi scheme — also known as a pyramid scheme — pays early investors with money from new investors who are lured with the promise of unusually large, short-term returns.
The illegal tactic takes its name from Charles Ponzi, who defrauded New England residents in the 1920s with a scheme involving postage stamps.
Moore invested her life savings with Madoff after learning about him through friends. She lost $350,000.
“I didn’t even have enough money to keep my house. I had to put it on the market,” she said. “I’m 78 years old and I’m not going to be able to get another job.”
Moore now depends on Social Security checks to pay for groceries and other necessities.
She said she’s not worried about being homeless after her house sells because she has a large network of friends.
“I’ll move in with somebody,” she said.
Moore spent 18 years as a nun. She left the convent when she was 35 and obtained a master’s degree in software engineering, securing a job in Boston before she retired in 1992 and moved to Keene.
“I didn’t get a decent pension when I retired,” she said. “I didn’t know anything about investments. I just wanted an income.”
Moore was friends with a couple who invested with Madoff and were seeing large average annual returns, she said. Moore said the interest on her investment with Madoff was enough to live on, at first.
“But the interest was getting lower and lower,” she said.
In the wake of Madoff’s conviction and sentencing, Moore said she does not feel that justice was served.
“I think the SEC should get a term in jail. They’re supposed to be the protectors,” she said, referring to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Moore said she doesn’t care about Madoff’s prison sentence or whether his associates will be charged and convicted.
“There’s no good in thinking about revenge. It doesn’t help you at all,” she said. “I understand there’s the same kind of fraudulence all over corporate America. So I don’t really think of Madoff as ‘The One.’”
Moore also no longer obsesses about the money she lost.
“I’ve discovered that it’s better to have friends than to have money,” she said. “That really makes up for a lot in life.”