Madoff victims to get their first checks

@CNNMoney October 4, 2011: 7:06 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Nearly three years after Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme unraveled, his victims are getting their first piece of the stolen funds.

Some $312 million in recovered money will be distributed on Wednesday, said Irving Picard, the trustee in charge of liquidating Madoff's securities firm.

"This distribution is the first return of stolen funds to Madoff's defrauded customers," Picard said. "The need among many Madoff customers is urgent, and we are working to expedite these distributions."

The distribution is being made to the holders of 1,230 accounts and represents about 4.6 cents on the dollar of losses they incurred.

The distribution had been delayed for a few days after a federal judge dismissed most counts of a $1 billion suit against the owners of the New York Mets baseball team that stemmed from the club's involvement in the Ponzi scheme.

Picard said "significant, additional funds" will eventually be returned to victims, as will future money that has yet to be recovered.

The trustee has recovered or entered into agreements to recover roughly $8.7 billion, which represents about half of the principal lost by customers who filed claims. However, the remaining money is tied up in litigation.

Madoff victims have already received up to $500,000 through the Securities Investor Protection Corp., a program for protecting investors.

Madoff, who was arrested in December 2008, pleaded guilty the following March to multiple federal counts of running the largest, longest-running Ponzi scheme in history. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison, and is serving his time at a federal facility in Butner, N.C. To top of page

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