Who was Sondra Wiener? Bernie Madoff's sister, 87, her husband found dead in murder-suicide

Sondra and her husband, Marvin, were among those whose lives were destroyed by Bernie Madoff's financial crimes, with Sondra having lost millions


                            Who was Sondra Wiener? Bernie Madoff's sister, 87, her husband found dead in murder-suicide
Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
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PALM BEACH, FLORIDA: Late Fraudster Bernie Madoff's sister and her husband were found dead in a Florida apartment in a suspected murder-suicide. Sondra Wiener, 87, and her spouse Marvin, 90, died of gunshot wounds in their home in Boynton Beach on Thursday, February 17, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office confirmed. 

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Authorities claimed that at 12:55 pm, they received a call saying Sondra and Marvin were found unresponsive. “Upon arrival, deputies located an elderly female and male deceased from a gunshot wound,” the sheriff’s office said. 

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The couple's deaths are being investigated by detectives from the Violent Crimes Division as a murder-suicide. It was not clear which one of them killed the other. Sondra and Marvin were among those whose lives were heavily impacted by Madoff's financial crimes, with Sondra having lost millions.

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A community leader confirmed the deaths in an e-mail to residents in the couple’s Valencia Lakes neighborhood. “Let me start off by stating that as many of you have heard, we had a tragic situation on Barca Boulevard regarding the passing of Sondra and Marvin Weiner,” said the e-mail obtained by Boca News Now. “Our thoughts and condolences go out to their family. There is currently an investigation pending. All I can say is at this time there is no security or safety threat to anyone in the community.”

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Bernard Madoff (C) walks out from Federal Court after a bail hearing in Manhattan January 5, 2009 in New York City. Madoff is accused of running a $50 billion Ponzi scheme through his investment company. (Photo by Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)

Who was Sondra Wiener?

Sondra was the sister of the Ponzi king and she and her husband ended up losing $3 million and which meant the couple was forced to sell their Palm Beach estate. . Sondra received packages filled with expensive heirlooms back in 2008, on Christmas eve, which were allegedly mailed by Madoff and his wife, Ruth. This was just days before Madoff's sons turned him over to authorities for defrauding his clients.

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Madoff and Sondra appeared to be close before Madoff's crimes came to light. The Wieners lived near his Palm Beach estate in the BallenIsles Country Club, which was a gated enclave that housed celebrities like Serena and Venus Williams. They sold the house for $575,000, $75,900 less than they paid for it in 2003, according to property records. The Wieners then downsized to a $315,000 home west of Boynton.

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Sondra never worked for Madoff Securities, but her son Charles, 60, once served as the director of administration. David, another son of Sondra, had said in 2009 that his parents had greatly suffered due to the Ponzi scheme. In one suit from 2010, New York-based trustee Irving H Picard sued Madoff's sister, Sondra M. Wiener, then 76; her husband, Marvin M. Wiener, then 79; their son, Charles E. Wiener and his wife, Carolyn B. Wiener. Picard's suit said the Wieners "received at least $1,715,000 of other people's money" from December 2002 to December 2008. Picard said Charles, who worked for Bernard L Madoff Investment Securities for years, was "intimately familiar with the operations" of his uncle's firm. Charles Wiener told the New York Post last year that he suffered a "devastating financial loss" from his uncle's scam and was forced to sell his Long Island home. "It's emotionally devastating to our entire family," Wiener said at the time.

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 Accused financier Bernard Madoff (L) leaves federal court January 14, 2009 in New York City. Madoff reportedly shipped more than $1 million in jewelry to relatives and friends over the holidays. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Madoff, the mastermind behind the biggest investment fraud in US history, died in 2021 at the age of 82 while serving a 150-year prison sentence. Madoff ran a vast Ponzi scheme in the early 1970s that prosecutors said swindled thousands, many of them elderly, out of their life savings. His victims included tens of thousands of ordinary investors, as well as big names like Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Weisel.

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By the time Madoff was arrested in December 2008, he had defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries out of up to $65 billion. He pled guilty in 2009. His request to be released amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying he suffered from end-stage renal disease, was denied. His cause of death was hypertension, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and chronic kidney disease. His kidneys had been failing for the last eight years. He was cremated in North Carolina after dying on April 14, where he’d been serving jail time. He said his dying wish was to reconcile with his grandchildren and explain his actions. "You know there hasn’t been a day in prison that I haven’t felt the guilt for the pain I caused on the victims and for my family," he told The Washington Post in 2020. 

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