The $50 billion Ponzi scheme that Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff is accused of orchestrating has stunned many state corrections officials — and not simply because of the magnitude of the alleged crime.
Among the funds lost in the scandal, it has emerged, were millions of dollars earmarked for corrections-related projects in the states, ranging from post-conviction DNA testing for inmates in Texas to housing assistance for ex-convicts in Kansas.
The money belonged to the JEHT Foundation, a New York-based charity that has provided tens of millions of dollars in grants to state and local governments, nonprofit organizations and other groups working for progressive corrections reforms.
The 9-year-old foundation, whose name stands for Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance, invested heavily with Madoff, and will shut its doors at the end of the month, its chief executive announced in a brief statement posted on the charity’s Web site.
Madoff was arrested by federal authorities in December amid allegations he carried out the largest individual financial fraud in history. The former money manager is accused of paying off existing investors with funds collected from new ones, rather than with actual returns.
The foundation’s sudden collapse has rocked the criminal justice reform community, from those advocating for looser criminal sentencing laws to those promoting expanded opportunities for inmates who have already served their time.