PALM BEACH (CBS4) – The widow of a Palm Beach County philanthropist agreed Friday to return $7.2 billion she and her husband invested with jailed Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff.

Barbara Picower, wife of deceased businessman Jeffry Picower, reached a settlement with federal prosecutors to return the money invested with Madoff over the last 35 years, CBS4 News Partners The Miami Herald reported Friday.  Picower was the biggest beneficiary of Madoff’s multi-billion dollar fraud scheme. Jeffrey Picower died in October of 2009 after suffering a heart attack in the pool of his Palm Beach mansion.

“We will return every penny received from almost 35 years of investing with Bernard Madoff,” Barbara Picower said in a statement. “I believe the Madoff Ponzi scheme was deplorable, and I am deeply saddened by the tragic impact it continues to have on the lives of its victims. It is my hope that this settlement will ease that suffering.”

Barbara Picower says her husband had no idea he was embroiled in such a massive fraud.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara called the forfeiture the largest in Justice Department history, and called it a “game changer” in recouping the billions of losses Madoff’s victims suffered.

With the forfeiture, officials say roughly half of the $20 billion investors entrusted with Madoff has been recovered.

Madoff is currently in federal prison in North Carolina serving a 150 year sentence after pleading guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.

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