Feds Looking Hard At Madoff Relatives: Sources

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Peter Madoff

    Federal prosecutors are looking into whether to file criminal charges against Bernie Madoff's brother and two sons, as well as several others who worked at the Madoff firm, sources familiar with the investigation told NBCNewYork.

    But one person familiar with the investigation cautioned that any decision on whether to file criminal charges could still be weeks away. 

    Tax fraud is among the possible violations being explored, although lawyers for Madoff's sons Andrew and Mark have long denied any wrongdoing, as has an attorney for Madoff's brother Peter.  In court hearing in New Jersey last month, Peter Madoff's attorney publicly stated his client is a "target" of the federal investigation.

    Over the past several weeks, spokesmen for U.S. attorney Preet Bharara, the FBI, SEC and IRS have all declined to comment on the investigation into Madoff's relatives.

    Madoff's sons have long denied having any knowledge that his father's investment business was a Ponzi scheme. If federal tax charges are filed, they could relate to how Madoff's kin earned and spent their money and whether they paid appropriate amount in taxes.

    The court-appointed trustee has been seeking more the $200 million in repayment from relatives alleging they improperly used investors money to buys homes, jewelry, cars and for travel.

    The pressure of the federal investigation may be taking its toll on Mark Madoff.  In October, New York police officials said his wife reported him missing after an argument.  Investigators said he later went for counseling.

    Meanwhile, one of the men who helped Bernie Madoff pull of the $65 billion dollar fraud is being set free for now even though he admitted to helping orchestrate the massive swindle.

    For weeks, the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara has been urging a federal judge to release admitted criminal Frank DiPascali so he can better cooperate with the FBI in tracking other Madoff relatives and associates involved in the scheme.

    Judge Richard Sullivan agreed on Thursday to release(.pdf) DiPascali on $10 million bond secured by nine other people including DiPascali's sister who put up her Bridgewater New Jersey home.