Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bernard Madoff was found dead early Saturday

NEW YORK — The older son of infamous Ponzi scheme architect Bernard Madoff was found dead early Saturday, after he apparently hanged himself on the second anniversary of the multi-billion dollar scam that victimized thousands of celebrities, charities and average investors.

The New York City Police Department said investigators found the body of Mark Madoff, 46, in his condo in Manhattan's expensive Soho neighborhood after receiving an emergency call around 7:27 a.m.

"Mark Madoff took his own life today," said attorney Martin Flumenbaum, who has represented the apparent suicide victim and his younger brother, Andrew in the sprawling investigation of the scam. This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy. Mark was an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime."

Police said the New York City Medical Examiner's office would conduct an autopsy to confirm Madoff's cause of death.

It was the Madoff sons who alerted authorities in December 2008, after they said their father had confided the scheme was on the verge of collapse. Although the brothers consistently have maintained they were blameless, investigators have focused on them because they worked closely with their father in the family's financial businesses.

Flumenbaum suggested the continuing investigation might have triggered the suicide, saying Mark Madoff "succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo."

"We are all deeply saddened by this shocking turn of events," said Flumenbaum.

The apparent suicide came as Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee seeking to recover Bernard Madoff's assets on behalf of burned investors, filed a wave of lawsuits against banks and investment firms ahead of the midnight Saturday deadline for suing entities and individuals suspected of having any role in the scam. Picard earlier filed lawsuits against the Madoff sons and other family members, seeking the return of millions of dollars in alleged improper gains. Picard has accused them of negligence and breach of their financial responsibilities.

Curious onlookers and reporters gathered outside Mark Madoff's building as news of the apparent suicide spread.

Bernard Madoff, 72, is serving a 150-year term in a North Carolina federal prison after he confessed and pleaded guilty last year. He insisted he acted alone. However, federal authorities have since filed criminal charges against several of his financial lieutenants and other longtime employees.

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