HELENA – Its executive director says a Montana nonprofit group that supports world peace lost 75 percent of its assets in the alleged Bernard Madoff pyramid scheme.
Peter Reynolds, of Corvallis, says the Oneness Project had $5 million in assets and lost $3.75 million invested with Madoff.
“It’s a huge loss. We’ve obviously cut back drastically this year,” Reynolds told The Associated Press. “We’ve cut back on some of the events we sponsor. … There’ll be no grants given this year.”
The New Age organization sponsors “Dances of Universal Peace” worldwide and last year gave out $171,000 in grants to local groups that sponsor the dances, Reynolds said.
“They’re a spiritual practice,” he explained in a telephone interview. “We come together for singing and dancing. We can be together in a faith environment.”
The Oneness Project invested the money through its founder, Eric Waldman, a Bozeman investment adviser who is also on the Madoff list.
Waldman did not respond to a phone message Friday seeking comment.
At least 35 people from Montana lost more than $18 million in the alleged Madoff pyramid scheme, according to state securities officials. Overall, clients of the New York investor have claimed losses of more than $50 billion.
John and Byrnece Sherman of Billings lost money invested with Madoff, but John Sherman declined to talk about his experiences Friday.
“No, I’d rather not,” he said. “I’d rather forget about it.”
Sandra Carroll of Big Timber was another investor who lost money in the scheme.
Carroll told KTVQ-TV in Billings that she knew Madoff personally and felt betrayed because the retirement she thought she would enjoy is now just a dream.
“There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about this, and in the morning I wake up and I think about it,” Carroll said. “I just cannot believe that he would do this to his friends.
Carroll did not reply to a telephone message Friday from an AP reporter seeking comment.
The Oneness Project’s Peters said he saw little chance of the organization recovering any of its lost assets.
“From what I hear on the news, I’m not optimistic,” he said, “but it would be nice.”
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