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Trustee sues more relatives of Madoff, wife

For some members of Bernard and Ruth Madoff's families, this holiday period could bring some added stress.

The trustee trying to clean up the aftermath of the giant Ponzi scheme on Friday filed 40 lawsuits, 22 against relatives of the Madoffs and 18 against former employees of the company at the heart of the scam or their relatives, in an effort to recoup some $69 million in customer investments allegedly diverted to the family members and old employees, officials said.

"The complaints filed today are a continuation of our recovery efforts against the Madoff relatives and employees who were closest to the center of the fraud and who were, in many cases, among those who benefited most from the Ponzi scheme," said trustee Irving Picard in a prepared statement released late Friday night.

One of the complaints was filed against Sondra M. Weiner, Bernard Madoff's sister, and her husband Marvin, both of Florida. Court papers alleged that Sondra from the late 1980s through the early 1990s received a guaranteed annual return of at least 20 percent. Picard also stated that she got a $1-million loan from Madoff's investment firm, which was never repaid.

The latest complaints are among a growing number, expected to total into the hundreds that Picard needs to file in order to clawback money he insists represents cash stolen from thousands of investors who collectively lost around $20 billion in the scheme. Picard must file the suits by Dec. 10, the two-year anniversary of the date Madoff's company went under in December 2008.

Picard has previously filed lawsuits against Ruth Madoff, her two sons Andrew and Mark, as well as Madoff's brother Peter and several others seeking to recoup about $200 million. Those cases are pending. According to Picard, some $30 million was allegedly diverted to relatives of Madoff and his wife Ruth, while about $39 million more was funneled to accounts of former employees and their families.

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