By Nathan Duke
A 50âˆ’yearâˆ’old Glendale man may be one of the few people in the five boroughs to win money, rather than lose it, from Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Ralph Amendolaro, a construction worker who lives in Glendale, recently won the state Lottery’s Numbers game by playing the last three numbers of the disgraced investment adviser’s inmate number.
Amendolaro was inspired to play the last three digits of Madoff’s inmate number — 054 — after seeing his picture and number on the cover of a daily newspaper. He said he placed a $3 bet on the number for three days in a row, beginning March 13, and found out that he won $1,500 on March 15.
“I wanted to get even with this guy,” said Amendolaro, who did not actually lose any money in Madoff’s $65 billion scam. “That was the pleasure of it. I don’t gamble very much. I’ve been to Las Vegas three times and probably gambled a total of $50. So, this was more for the satisfaction that somebody made money off Bernie Madoff instead of him making it off them.”
Amendolaro, who is married and has three children, had been heading to a local convenience store to buy coffee when he spotted Madoff’s face on the newspaper. But his son, who is in college, had told him several days earlier to bet on Madoff.
“My son called me up and said, ‘I’d bet the numbers on this guy,’” Amendolaro said. “My other kids said, ‘Do I get any money?’”
He said he gave his wife of 29 years part of the prize to take with her on an upcoming trip to Las Vegas, so she can potentially win more money.
Amendolaro received a return of about 16,000 percent on his $9 investment by playing the New York State Lottery’s Numbers game. He said people have been calling to congratulate him.
“I think people are happy to hear that somebody beat him because he’s beaten so many others,” he said of Madoff.
On March 12, Madoff, a Laurelton native who was formerly the chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange, confessed to operating a $65 billion Ponzi scheme that has been called the largest investor fraud ever committed by a single person. He will be sentenced in June.
The scam’s Queens victims include New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, the foundation of Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel and New York Daily News Publisher Mortimer Zuckerman, as well as more than 120 accounts that originated in the borough.
Reach reporter Nathan Duke by eâˆ’mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718âˆ’229âˆ’0300, Ext. 156.