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In the last years of his life, Ilene Kent’s father “just wasn’t the same” after he lost more than half of his net worth to Bernie Madoff’s notorious, $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
“He didn’t laugh, he didn’t tell jokes … you could just tell something in him had changed,” Kent told The Post by phone Wednesday, recalling how Madoff robbed her father of the golden years he spent decades preparing for as a Long Island doctor.
When she got news of the disgraced financier’s death Wednesday morning, she said it was a fate he was only too lucky to have gotten.
“The fact that he suffered at the end is almost poetic justice for the suffering he inflicted,” the 67-year-old said.
“I can’t say I’m shedding a tear.”
Madoff leaves behind not just his widow, grandchildren and siblings — who will all be forever marred by his crimes — but tens of thousands of victims, many of whom had their livelihoods snatched away in the most prolific scam in Wall Street history.
“I think he should’ve lived for another 500 years as a very sick man,” said Stephanie Halio, who lost “pretty close to a hundred percent” of her life savings to Madoff’s crooked hedge fund.
“I’m sorry that he passed away and he’s out of it,” the 78-year-old continued.
“He hurt so many people very, very badly. He was a horrible person, I wouldn’t even call him a human being, he was a horrible man for what he did and ruined so many lives.
“He was too lucky to die.”
Halio said she and her late husband, Robert, were introduced to Madoff by a friend and were direct investors for “many, many years” until their gilded life came to a screeching halt in December 2008 when the New York-born schemer was busted for securities fraud by the FBI.
“It came at such a total shock when it was revealed that he was such a crook,” Halio said.
“We lost cars, we lost a vacation home, we lost a lot and our whole lifestyle was turned upside down and as senior citizens, we went back to work.”
The couple, who were retired at the time after Halio’s husband made it big running a process-serving business he started from scratch, had to start over when they realized their savings had been gambled away by Madoff. They started a driving service and spent their golden years schlepping 50-pound suitcases and ferrying people around to the airport, to doctor’s appointments, “wherever people needed a ride.”
Soon, Halio’s husband came down with Alzheimer’s disease and they were forced to end their second act early and get by on “whatever it was that we got back” from the Madoff victims compensation fund, which was only about 15 percent of what they lost.
“I thought maybe that the shock gave him [Robert] this disease but there’s really no evidence for that, but it certainly was a double whammy, Madoff and then Alzheimer’s,” Halio said.
“Again, I was sorry that [Madoff] passed away. I wanted him to live and suffer the way that he made so many other people suffer.”
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