NEW YORK — For two years, the two sons of jailed financier Bernard Madoff portrayed themselves as honest whistle-blowers of their father's historic fraud. A court-appointed trustee depicted them as bungling money managers who did nothing to protect investors.
The suicide of Mark Madoff leaves unanswered questions for investors seeking payback for the billions of dollars his father siphoned — and for criminal investigators who continued to pursue charging Madoff's family for knowing participation in the fraud.
The 46-year-old Madoff — Bernard Madoff's eldest son — hanged himself Saturday by a dog leash on a metal ceiling beam in his Manhattan loft apartment, his 2-year-old son asleep in another room. The death was officially ruled a suicide by hanging Sunday by the city medical examiner.
He died on the anniversary of his father's arrest two years ago in the largest Ponzi scheme ever recorded. It followed the filing in recent weeks of dozens of lawsuits by trustee Irving Picard as he pursued billions of dollars in damages against those who profited from the multi-decade fraud.
Mark Madoff and his brother, Andrew, portrayed themselves as heroes who sought to stop their father from committing more fraud. "How ironic it is … to blame the very two individuals who uncovered and reported the fraud, saving the estate more than $170 million, for not uncovering it sooner," their lawyer, Martin Flumenbaum, said in court papers earlier this year.
On Sunday, Flumenbaum continued to portray the brothers as innocent of their father's crimes. "Mark and Andrew Madoff had no prior knowledge of their father's crimes and contacted the U.S. Department of Justice and the SEC immediately after their father told them he had defrauded his investment advisory clients," Flumenbaum said.