HUTCHINSON (AP) — Even before New York financier Bernard Madoff went to jail last week for operating a $65 billion Ponzi scheme, he had affected the lives of Kansas inmates.
Donors to a private foundation that gave $4 million in grants to the Kansas Department of Corrections had invested with Madoff.
Madoff, 70, was sent to prison after pleading guilty last week to securities fraud and other charges, admitting a ruse that lasted decades. He is scheduled to be sentenced in June for up to 150 years in prison for telling investors they had $65 billion when he actually had lost nearly all of their money.
Among those losing millions to Madoff were Jeanne Levy-Church and Kenneth Levy-Church, donors to the JEHT Foundation, which stood for Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. Losses from Madoff forced the foundation to close.
Secretary of Corrections Roger Werholtz learned of the foundation’s closing through an e-mail from its president, Robert Crane.
“That kind of thing is just stunning, and such an incredible tragedy,” Werholtz said.
Not many private foundations are interested in donating to the corrections field, he said, and the JEHT Foundation was the state agency’s biggest private foundation donor “by a mile.”
The JEHT Foundation gave to a wide range of entities, ranging from the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation to Baptist Community Ministries to law schools. But the Kansas Department of Corrections was among the top beneficiaries.
Werholtz said the agency targeted JEHT’s aid on developing re-entry and risk-reduction efforts for inmates getting out of prison.