Mark Madoff, oldest son of Bernie Madoff, hangs himself with dog leash in SoHo apartment

December 13th, 2010 by Staff


www.nydailynews.com — Two years of living with his disgraced father’s $65 billion legacy of deception was all Mark Madoff could stomach.

The eldest son of the biggest swindler in U.S. history, unable to stand another day of his soured life, hung himself with a dog leash Saturday in his multimillion-dollar SoHo condo.

In dire early morning emails to his wife, Madoff wrote that he was ready to end a high-flying life of privilege that hit rock bottom after his father’s Dec. 11, 2008, arrest – exactly two years earlier.

“It basically sounded like he couldn’t take it anymore,” a source familiar with the emails told the Daily News. “At one point he said something like, ‘You’ll have a better life if I’m not around …I love you.’”

Madoff – wearing khaki pants, a dark blue pullover shirt and white socks – knotted the black leash around a steel pole in a lighting rack on the living room ceiling, a police source indicated.

His lifeless body was discovered by his father-in-law, well-known lawyer Martin London, at 7:27 a.m. after a phone call from Madoff’s alarmed wife.

Stephanie Morgan – who changed her name from Madoff earlier this year – feared something terrible was imminent. She was vacationing at Disney World with their 4-year-old daughter.

Their 2-year-old boy Nicholas was sleeping peacefully inside another room at the home on Mercer St., a century-old brownstone where the neighbors included rocker Jon Bon Jovi. The family’s pet labradoodle, Grouper, was also in the condo.

The humiliated Madoff wrote his wife that their family “would be better off without ‘this’ hanging over them all, forever,” a source said. “He all but said he was going to kill himself.”

The 46-year-old investment scion’s body was brought out on a stretcher at 12:22 p.m., finally free from the cloud of suspicion that hung above his head.

His imprisoned dad, Bernard Madoff, received word of the tragedy inside a federal prison in North Carolina. Although Mark was never charged with any crimes in the Ponzi scheme, there was rampant speculation that he and brother Andrew were aware of the staggering scope of their father’s scam.

The NYPD sought warrants yesterday to check Madoff’s phone and computer – standard procedure in suicide investigations, a source said. The Securities and Exchange Commission is also seeking the records.

‘Innocent victim’

The blood of the son was unquestionably on the hands of his father, according to Mark Madoff’s lawyer.

“Mark was an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime, who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo,” said attorney Martin Flumenbaum. “We are all deeply saddened by this shocking turn of events.”

Madoff, who hadn’t spoken with his father or mother since the family’s massive financial betrayal became public in 2008, was struggling with mounting emotional and legal problems.

The latest blow came last week, when Mark Madoff’s three children (he had one child by a previous wife) were sued by Irving Picard – the trustee responsible for repaying thousands of duped investors.

“His mental state has been shaken, and we’ve noticed he’s been depressed,” said a source close to Mark Madoff. “He’s been increasingly distraught…His children – Bernie’s grandchildren – were named in lawsuits. It was too much for him to take.”

A separate source said the raft of news stories – including a front-page piece in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal – generated by the second-year anniversary of his dad’s arrest showed him “he was never going to get out from under” the shadow of the scandal.

Mark Madoff was sued last year for $66 million in ill-gotten gains that financed every aspect of his jet-setting lifestyle.

Court papers indicated he earned a fortune working at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities: nearly $34 million in salary and bonuses in 2006, and more than $9 million the next year.

Picard called the suicide “a tragic development…my sympathy goes out to Mark Madoff’s family.”

One day before his body was discovered, a cheery Madoff stopped by the garage where he parked his 2008 black Land Rover to drop off his annual Christmas card and a $400 tip.

“He didn’t seem upset when he gave us the card and the money,” said attendant Anthony Diaz, 37, adding that Madoff typically delivered his holiday gift on Dec. 20.

Hours later, lot employee Juvenal Santiago spotted Madoff walking his dog. “He didn’t seem depressed or angry,” said Santiago, 42.

The 72-year-old Bernard Madoff, serving a 150-year prison term in Butner, N.C., was officially notified of the death by the federal Bureau of Prisons.

For Madoff to attend his son’s funeral, the scammer would need to make an application for a staff-escorted trip, said prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley, and the warden and staff would need to approve his bid.

Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, called the death “a great tragedy at many levels.” He declined to say if he was in contact with his client after the suicide.

Mark’s mother, Ruth, was “heartbroken” by the loss of her first-born boy, according to her attorney, Peter Chavkin.

Mark Madoff joined his father’s crooked business in 1986, although he worked on a side of the operation separate from the decades-old Ponzi scheme.

A law enforcement source said Mark Madoff was increasingly unnerved about the possibility of joining his father behind bars.

“The son knew he was in the cross hairs,” the source said. “At first he thought he would somehow skate, but once [the trustee recovering assets for investors] detailed the family theft, he knew his time was limited.”


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