Hunting Bernie Madoff

By Cristina DC Pastor; TF photo

Spokesman Roland Ubaldo reports almost $25 million have been collected by the U.S. Marshals Service from the sale of Bernie Madoff’s mansions, Mercedes and monogrammed boxers, and that a third auction is coming up in Florida.

TF: How much have you collected from two auctions of Bernie Madoff’s property?
RU: Roughly $3 million to $4 million in personal property from both auctions in New York City. There is one more auction in the Palm Beach area sometime between April and May.

TF: Where’s that money now?
RU: The money has gone directly to the Department of Justice’s Assets Forfeiture Fund to benefit Madoff victims.

TF: Have they actually received the money?
RU: That I don’t know. That’s a matter for the courts and attorneys. We (the U.S. Marshals) have and continue to do our part. We’ve worked diligently for a good 18 to 20 months working to dispose of these assets.

TF: What was your role in the two auctions, the first in November 2009 and the second a year later?
RU: I played a key role as the public affairs officer here in New York. It was my responsibility to get the word out about these auctions to increase awareness. I was tasked with coordinating press from all over the world.

TF: What do you think of Madoff’s personal items?
RU: There were nice pieces and there were ugly pieces. People were buying these things for way over their fair market value, which was surprising. Maybe for notoriety value. A lot of these items had the initials BLM embroidered on them which increased interest.

TF: Give me an example.
RU: A Mets jacket that sold for approximately $14,000. Embroidered in the back: Madoff. There was a bidding war on that piece. There are dress shirts with BLM embroidered into the cuff. A pair of house slippers sold for $10,000.
Our goal from the beginning was restitution to the victims. As far as real property, houses, boats, cars, those have all been sold for approximately $20 million in all.

TF: This amount on top of the $3 million to $4 million from the two auctions?
RU: That’s correct.

TF: Ever had any fleeting conversation with Madoff?
RU: When he was in court here (Southern District of New York), I helped assist with hearings and the sentencing phase. We were all in direct contact with him as far as security is concerned. When you’re in the courthouse, the Marshals service is responsible for security of everybody from the public to the judges, including the defendants.

Roland providing security to Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling at a 2008 copyright trial in New York.

TF: Madoff is just one of your many high-profile cases. What else have you worked on?
RU: This district is one of the largest in the United States. This is New York City, center of the universe. We get everything from celebrities to Madoffs to terrorists to pirates to Russian spies. The Mob takedown in Long Island and Jersey, we assisted in that. I assisted and worked on hundreds of fugitive investigations. I have also spent time in Iraq with the Marshals assisting in the trial of Saddam Hussein and to help create a justice system there.

TF: Tell me about “Manhunters” the TV show.
RU: It’s a production between the U.S. Marshals Service and A&E. It’s a reality TV show following the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, while hunting and tracking fugitives.

TF: Is it a good idea to have cameras follow you during an operation?
RU: I’ve only worked on a couple of episodes. Is it tough to work with? Of course, but you deal with it. The bottom-line is when you have cameras out there, nothing should go out the window. This isn’t Hollywood. This is real life, when you get shot, you die.

TF: Did you say you’re also a warrant squad supervisor on top of your other responsibility as spokesman?
RU: I supervise a squad here of 14 well-trained, seasoned deputy marshals. Great investigators, great people to work with. We go through doors and we don’t know what’s on the other side. My guys know what they’re doing, we put each other’s lives in each other’s hands day in and day out.

TF: You started your day today at 4 a.m. Is that typical?
RU: In the warrant squad, it is. There is nothing glamorous about searching for fugitives. We get down and dirty. We start early, we end late. On a general day that we’re executing warrants, we’re up early. You have to be one step ahead if not 10 steps ahead of the guy you’re looking for.

TF: How do you prepare yourself for an operation, psychologically more than physically?
RU: Recently, and God bless them, two deputy U.S. marshals passed away. It’s tough to not put that aside when you’re going through these doors. What they were doing when they passed, is the same thing we do here every day. We’re looking for fugitives, we’re trying to make the streets safe, we’re protecting the communities from criminals. How do we deal with it? We continue to march on.

TF: Do you see a therapist?
RU: (laughs) No. Our therapy is being home with our families. Our goal at the end of the day is to go home and see our family. Can we do that every day? We don’t decide that. There’s a trend right now, there’s an increase in violence. They’re just shooting it out. They’re ready to die and take people with them. We know that, we’ve seen it.

TF: Are you one of the few Filipinos in a supervisory position in the Marshals?
RU: I’ve been working with the government now for 14 years, 10 years in the Marshals. There are not many Filipinos in the Marshals Service. I know of two Chief Inspectors that are Filipinos. In the Southern District of New York, I am the only Filipino. We are a very small agency with a huge responsibility. Only 4,000 of us can claim the title of U.S. Marshal throughout the nation. To put it into perspective, the NYPD has about 40,000 officers. We cover the Bronx, Manhattan, but our fugitive cases take us all over, even internationally. Our reach is very far.

TF: How do you relax?
RU: I run, I love to work out. I really enjoy my free time, just to get away from the up tempo that we’re at. And I love to cook. Maybe I should be a chef in my next life.

First-generation FilAm Roland Ubaldo was born in Queens. His parents were long-time employees and retired from the City of New York.


  1. Jun and Chit Regino wrote:

    Great interview!

  2. Ron Ubaldo wrote:

    If you know me, you’ll know that I talk about my brother’s work and how proud I am of him. He serves his country proudly and works diligently for justice and for our safety. Please take a moment of your time to show your support.

    Thank You,

  3. Roland Ubaldo, we are proud of you! Keep up that charm and boyish smile for everyone to be
    inspired. And yes, continue to run and work out, good for the heart and soul!

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: