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Published:March 25th, 2009 10:04 EST
Bernie Madoff

Bernie's Madoff's ID Is Queens' Man's Ticket To Winnings

By Christopher HIllenbrand

Since the mastermind behind the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, Bernie Madoff, was remanded to prison, serendipity had given back some of what he stole in one of the most unlikely ways. A man in Queens played the last three digits of Madoff`s prisoner number and won $1,500 as a minute compensation flushed against the $65 billion scam Bernie Madoff and his associates perpetrated.

 Bernie Madoff

Ralph Amendolaro, a 50-year-old construction worker in Glendale, Queens, quickly recognized the serial number plastered under Madoff`s profile shot on the front page of the Daily News on March 13th. The headline news covered the story of Madoff pleading guilty to the federal charges against him the day before.

On a whim, Amendolaro remembered the last three digits of the serial number: 61727-054, and dashed down to a local convenience store around the corner to play the New York State Lottery`s Pick 3 with the sequence. Amazingly, the man claimed he seldom played the lottery, and when he did, only with numbers that stood out as something exceptional. With the immensity of the man`s crimes and the scope of financial fraud he`s accused of, I think the number consituted something extraordinary.

Amendolaro swore that at the time he played the numbers he was thinking: "I`m going to be a winner with this guy even though everyone lost money with him. Somebody had to get a little lucky with him."

The man wagered three dollars that same day, and although the numbers weren`t picked, he proceeded to bet three dollars each of the next two days when on the last day, Sunday, 054 was chosen.

In comparison with Madoff`s promise to return purloined funds, Amendolaro`s investment yielded a 16,000 percent return on the nine dollar risk whereas Madoff has kept his promises to a minimum over what blighted investors will see.

But the proud husband and father of three wasn`t the only one finding a mystical quality in the thief`s much-deserved imprisonment. 501 played the number on Sunday alone in the state, which was up 381 from the 120 that gambled on the trio Saturday.

Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the gaming commission, spoke of the influx of that now-infamous inmate number: "It`s pretty common when you have a number that hits the public. A lot of people are very superstitious."

Inmmediately following the miracle on the Hudson, the New York State Lottery had to make local stores cease sales on the digits 1549: the flight number of the US Airways plane. She went on to say that especially lately, any large news including a sequence of digits usually provokes lotto buyers to choose accordingly.

Concerning the Madoff mug math, she said: "For Madoff, it didn`t come to that."

Jokingly, Mr. Amendolaro said: "I`m not going to invest it, put it that way," referencing the ongoing scandal on Wall Street. The man admitted that Madoff probably wouldn`t take any joy from his capitalizing on his comeuppance.

"He`ll probably look to charge me on the investment that I made off of him. He`ll probably want a cut."

But investing it with Madoff behind the bars would be as effective as what the man plans to do with it: pass it along to his wife to spend in Vegas for her 50th birthday.