Disgraced fund manager Bernard Madoff, 71, was sentenced to 150 years in prison Monday for masterminding one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. financial history.
"I think Judge [Denny] Chin had it absolutely correct," said Stanley Lehrer, a retired attorney from Delray Beach who says he lost $10 million. Lehrer was a law partner of Ira Sorkin, who is Madoff's current attorney and who was seeking a sentence of only 12 years.
"I believe there are funds hidden someplace, not necessarily in his name," Lehrer said. "Madoff has not been totally cooperative with the government."
Lehrer says he was forced to sell his home. He is living on the proceeds of some insurance policies that his children provided.
Madoff's investors included at least 2,000 South Floridians, out of about 13,000 nationwide.
"It doesn't really interest me what they do with him," said William Pressman, of Tamarac, who ran a feeder fund of about 15 investors who sent money to Madoff. "The only thing that matters to me is if any of us get our money back and what part of it."
"I'm seeing it as the beginning of justice, the first of the justice we're looking forward to," said Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, formerly of Palm Beach County, as she headed into a CNN interview outside the Manhattan courthouse.
Ambrosino has organized a Madoff victims organization that reportedly has 350 members. Ambrosino was stranded by the news of Madoff's arrest in December, when she was vacationing in an RV in Arizona.
Another of the major "feeder funds" that funneled money to Madoff was based in Fort Lauderdale. The accounting firm of Avellino and Bienes, which was shut down by the SEC in 1992, controlled $441 million, which Michael Bienes says was exclusively invested with Madoff.
The Madoff losses have also rolled across charities in South Florida. Palm Beach's Picower Foundation, which had almost $1 billion in assets and supported dozens of local programs, shut off donations in Madoff's wake. The foundation of Palm Beach philanthropists Carl and Ruth Shapiro said it lost $145 million in Madoff investments and will make no new gifts.
"Let him die," said Tamarac Madoff victim Ralph Schwarz. "They are not going to give him what he deserves."
Larry Lief, who invested with Madoff for more than 30 years and who says he lost $8 million, said he's bothered by the slow process of claims being evaluated by Madoff trustee Irving Picard and the offers being made to victims.
"Hopefully now the public and the justice system and the regulatory system can concentrate on the real issue," Lief said.
"Who cares about Bernie Madoff?" Lief said, echoing the sentiment of several victims. "The government says they're watching over you and not to worry and the government says they're insuring you and now we have a trustee who is absolutely out of control."
Lief, a retired toy and sporting goods manufacturer, has sold his Delray Beach home.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
Ponzi scheme mastermind gets jail time