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Death of Bernie Madoff stirs painful memories for defrauded Valley investor

"I think the world is better off without this guy.  He has no family and no friends.  I imagine no one will attend his funeral," said Palm Springs resident Gregg Felsen, while talking about the death of Bernie Madoff. 

Felsen doesn't have anything good to say about about the disgraced financier, who died in prison Wednesday, after being convicted for ripping off his clients an estimated $65 billion.

Felsen says he lost his retirement savings.

"He conned not only people like me, but also his friends and his family," said Felsen. 

A photographer, who still works to support himself, Felsen says he first made contact with Madoff in the 1980's, when the 73-year-old and his father were members of a country club in Minneapolis.

Felsen says he and others he described as "smart" were persuaded by the "credible" and "experienced" Madoff to trust him with their money. 

"He used to be the head of NASDAQ and a well-respected guy.  When you saw pictures of him before this happened, he looked like a distinguished guy," said Felsen. 

The father of two says he was led to believe his money was being put into stocks bonds and cash holdings for annual returns of 8 to 10 percent.

It wasn't until December, 2008 when he and thousands of other investors discovered it was all a sham.

Felsen was asked if it is possible to forgive Madoff for what Madoff did to him. 

"No,  I don't think anybody who was his victim can forgive him.  That is unforgivable what he did," said Felsen. 

Felsen says he has overcome the financial setback and is able to live comfortably doing work he enjoys.

"I think though time and strength people can go on and live a decent life," said Felsen. 

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.

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