Madoff Made Off With Chicago Dough

162-page court filing includes names of Chicago players

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Bernard Madoff, the accused mastermind of a llarge Ponzi scheme that played off millionaires nationwide.

    The names of dozens of people with direct Chicago connections are found on the newly-released list of alleged victims of Bernard Madoff's $50-billinois Ponzi scheme.

    The names of J. Ira Harris, the former Chicago investment banker and Pritzker Organization vice-chairman, and his wife Nicki appear on a 162-page court filing made public on Thursday.

    Two 1987 Harris family trusts also appear on a separate list of Madoff’s Illinois customers that was obtained by Crain’s Chicago Business. Neither list included investment amounts.

    The Sun--Times reported Friday that another name on the list is Patti Gerber, a Chicago heiress whose father -- who made his fortune in the plastics industry -- began investing with Madoff decades ago.  Gerber said the in good times her father's investments generated "amazing" annual returns -- up to 30 percent.

    Her family is from New York, but Gerber has a "country home" in Lake Forest, and says she'll have to make some serious adjustments after losing between $15 million and $20 million in the Madoff scheme.

    Gerber said she trusted Madoff, but he was gruff. 

    "He was not manor born," she said.

    Other Chicago-area residents included in the bankruptcy document include:

        * Pearson Street Capital LLC, affiliated with Berger Management Services, where a woman who answered the phone said it was a family office associated with veteran real estate developer Miles Berger.

        * Howard Weiss, a retired Chicago lawyer and partner in the Weiss family foundation. His wife, Molly, declined to comment from their Palm Beach residence.

        * The late Barbara Laird of suburban Lake Forest. Her son-in-law Roger Williams says Ms. Laird invested “a little over” $100,000 with Madoff. She died last month without knowing about the alleged fraud, he said.