Madoff’s Elder Son Found Dead in Suicide
Mark Madoff, the older of Bernard L. Madoff’s two sons, hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment on Saturday, the second anniversary of his father’s arrest for running a gigantic Ponzi scheme that shattered thousands of lives around the world.
“Mark Madoff took his own life today,” Martin Flumenbaum, Mark Madoff’s lawyer, said in a statement. “This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy.” He called the dead man “an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo.”
Police officials said officers responded to a 911 call about a “possible suicide” just before 7:30 Saturday morning from Mr. Madoff’s apartment building, at 158 Mercer Street on the edge of SoHo. According to Deputy Police Commissioner Paul J. Browne, officers found the body hanging from a dog leash attached to a pipe on the living room ceiling. He said there was no evidence of foul play.
Mr. Browne said Mark Madoff’s 2-year-old son was asleep in an adjoining bedroom.
Police officials said Mr. Madoff sent e-mails to his wife in Florida sometime after 4 a.m. Saturday. “It was more than one,” said an official, “at least one of which indicated that someone should check on his 2-year-old son.”
Police officials said the body was discovered by Martin London, a prominent New York lawyer who is the stepfather of Mark’s wife, Stephanie. Reached by phone, Mr. London declined to comment.
A person who spoke with Mark Madoff frequently in the last few weeks said he had been in “an increasingly fragile state of mind” and had expressed both continuing bitterness toward his father and concern about a series of lawsuits that were filed against him and his family.
Just last week Mr. Madoff, 46, was among the directors and officers of a Madoff affiliate in London who were sued by the trustee seeking assets for victims of the scheme.
It was the second lawsuit filed against him by the trustee, Irving H. Picard, who had had initially sued him last year seeking to recover approximately $200 million that the family had received in salaries, bonuses, expense-account payments and gains in their own investment accounts at the Madoff firm.
But Mr. Madoff was particularly upset that the trustee had named his young children as defendants in a lawsuit filed in late November seeking the recovery of money Bernard Madoff had paid out to his extended family over the years, according to the person who recently spoke with him, who insisted on anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on behalf of the family.
There has also been speculation that members of the Madoff family were vulnerable to being prosecuted for tax-law violations, given the variety of low-cost loans and generous expense-account payments that were part of the office culture at the Madoff brokerage firm.
Since Bernard Madoff’s arrest, all the members of his immediate family have been the targets of a battery of civil lawsuits filed initially by victims of the Ponzi scheme and later by the bankruptcy court trustee.
These lawsuits are pending, and will not necessarily be derailed by Mark Madoff’s death. Typically, the litigation would continue against the estate of any deceased defendant, as was the case when Jeffry Picower, one of Bernard Madoff’s largest investors, died in October 2009.
Ira Lee Sorkin, a lawyer for Bernard Madoff, said he had not been able to contact his client at the North Carolina prison where he is serving a 150-year sentence for his crimes.
“But I’m very sure he has been informed,” Mr. Sorkin said, adding, “This is a great tragedy on many, many levels.”
A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Traci Billingsley, said “any time there is a death of a family member, and the agency is notified, we immediately notify the inmate.”
Inmates may request to attend funerals, she said, and those requests are considered case by case.
Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Ruth Madoff, Mark’s mother, said simply: “Ruth is heartbroken.”
Mark Madoff had been a licensed broker at his father’s firm since June 1987. A number of Mark’s oldest childhood friends from Roslyn, N.Y., invested with the Madoff firm and lost their savings in the fraud. This destroyed those relationships and caused Mark great pain, a person close to the family said.
And on the advice of his lawyer, Mark Madoff has had no contact with his parents since the day before his father’s arrest two years ago.