Bernie Madoff's son hanged himself over fears $80million lawsuit would send him to jail like his father

  • Mark Madoff named in $80m lawsuit three days before his death

  • Lawsuit also named his young son and daughter

  • Prison rules could prevent Bernie Madoff going to his son's funeral

  • Madoff victims: Son's suicide gives us no satisfaction

  • Lawyer: 'He succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure'

The eldest son of disgraced financier Bernie Madoff hanged himself because he feared he would face criminal charges relating to the London operations of his disgraced father’s firm.

Mark Madoff, 46, was named in a $80million (£50million) lawsuit against directors of the fraudulent investment house three days before he died. Last night his death was officially ruled a suicide.

Friends told police the father-of-two was tormented by the prospect of being locked up like his father, who is serving a 150-year sentence for masterminding a $60billion financial scam.

Tragedy: Mark Madoff pictured with his wife Stephanie and their two-year-old son Nicholas, who was asleep in the New York apartment in which Mr Madoff was found hanged on Saturday

Shamed family: Fraudster Bernie Madoff with his wife Ruth and son Mark at a dinner in Long Island in 2001. Mark was found dead at his apartment in Manhattan

Mark is the subject of a wave of lawsuits filed by cheated investors who want to make up their losses by seizing the money his father handed to relatives.

One action named his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son.

His son, Nicholas, was asleep in bed when his father was found hanged in the family’s New York apartment.

It emerged yesterday that Bernie Madoff could be refused permission to attend his son's funeral.

Strict prison rules mean the fraudster may face the agony of not being able to pay his last respects to the son who paid the ultimate price for his father's spectacular downfall.

According to rules at the medium-security Butner Federal Correctional Institution in North Carolina where Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence, inmates can only attend the funerals of 'immediate family members' if they have less less than two years until their release.

The guidelines raise the prospect of a bitter battle between Madoff's lawyers and prison authorities over whether it is in the 'public interest' for him to attend his son's high-profile funeral.

A prison spokesman said she would not release details about how Madoff was informed of his son's death.


Victims of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi fraud said today that his son's tragic death gave them no satisfaction.

Ronnie Sue Ambrosino, who leads a group of Madoff victims who have been fighting for restitution in the case, said the death was just more evidence of the pain the case has wrought.

'It's sad. It's very, very sad that any life is taken,' she said. 'It's so wasteful.'

She said she doubted any of the victims were taking pleasure in the Madoff family's sorrow.

'That's not going to help the Madoff victims find the justice and the restitution they deserve.'

Mark Madoff's body was discovered by his father-in-law, Martin London, at 7.30am on Saturday.

His wife Stephanie, who was in Disney World in Orlando with their four-year-old daughter, Audrey, raised the alarm after her husband sent her an email in which he is believed to have said he could no longer live with the curse put on his family by his fraudster father.

A source told the New York Daily News: 'At one point he said something like, 'You'll have a better life if I'm not around... I love you... Our son needs someone here.''

Another source told the paper that he told his wife that their family 'would be better off without this hanging over them all'.

Mark and his brother, Andrew, were under investigation but had not faced any criminal charges in the massive Ponzi scheme that led to their father's jailing.

'He was found hanged in his apartment. It was an apparent suicide,' a police spokesman Paul Browne said.

Mark Madoff's lawyer, Martin Flumenbaum, said: 'This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy.

'Mark was an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo.'

Tragedy: Officials carry the body of Bernie Madoff's 44-year-old son Mark out of his New York apartment today after he was found hanged

Bernie Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after he was found guilty in June 2009 of swindling more than £45bn in the elaborate fraud.

Both Mark and Andrew had worked in senior positions for their father's securities firm since their twenties and supervised Madoff's stock-trading desks.

But it was a side of the firm not directly involved in the Ponzi scheme.

House of horror: The Manhattan apartment in which Mark Madoff was found hanged in SoHo, Manhattan

The 72-year-old former Wall St. genius was forced to sell his Manhattan and Florida homes as U.S. authorities seized all his assets.

His 67-year-old wife lives in Florida, where she carries out 'Meals on Wheels' charity work.

A year ago, the court-appointed trustee trying to unravel Madoff's financial affairs sued several relatives, including Peter - Bernard's brother, who played a prominent role in the family's company - Mark and Andrew, accusing them of failing to detect the fraud while living lavish lifestyles financed with the family's ill-gotten fortune.

The lawsuit accused Mark Madoff of using $66m he received improperly to buy luxury homes in New York City, Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In February, Mark Madoff's wife petitioned a court to change her last name and the last names of her children, saying her family had received threats and was humiliated by the scandal.

On 11 December 2008, Madoff summoned his sons to his New York penthouse flat to tell them his investment business was 'one big lie'.

They were devastated. Andrew lay crying on the floor of the kitchen and Mark reacted in fury.

Friends told Vanity Fair magazine that Andrew condemned his father’s ‘biblical’ betrayal. His wife, Deborah, reportedly filed for divorce on the day of her father-in-law’s arrest. 

Investigation: A medical examiner arrives at the the apartment building where Madoff lived today

Police officers at the scene of the death today. Earlier this year, Mark's wife petitioned a court to change her last name and that of her children, saying her family had received threats and was humiliated by the scandal

One former Madoff employee, named only as Deborah, said the sons ‘wouldn’t have been able to do what Bernie did: they just didn’t have the evilness in them.’

But she added: ‘If I were to say that Mark and Andy are innocent, I’d get people looking at me like I’m absolutely nuts.’ 

Mark was said to be obsessed by the scandal, poring endlessly over newspaper and Internet reports.

Twenty-four hours after his father told him what he had done, Mark was said to have missed the office Christmas party and gone home to lay on his bed, fully clothed, without moving for four hours. 

After the initial furore died down, he tried unsuccessfully to get a job in trading before starting his own company making applications for iPads.

But the scandal would not go away. Mark recently had been using an email address that does not include his first or last name.

Jailed: Bernard Madoff, left, who is serving a 150-year jail term for fraud over a £45bn Ponzi scheme, and his other son Andrew, who is under investigation

According to the Wall Street Journal, he and his wife Stephanie bought a $6.5m home in Nantucket, Massachusetts in 2008. It is currently for sale.

One of Andrew’s friends, Alexandra Lebenthal, told the magazine that his mood brightened after his father was sent to jail.

‘That was meaningful for him in terms of getting to the next level,’ she said.  

She added that Andrew's priority was to make his daughters understand that ‘just because their grandfather turned out to be one of the worst criminals ever didn't mean they’re bad people.’ 

He told friends when his father was jailed that he couldn’t find it in his heart to take pity him.

The magazine claimed the sons cold-shouldered their mother because they believed her tendency to side with her husband, no matter what, enabled his pyramid scheme fraud to succeed for so long.  

Madoff wrote to his sons from jail and sent them a gift of a vintage Paul Neman Rolex Daytona, a Piaget and a Cartier Tank watch.

He wrote:‘Dear Mark and Andy, If you can bear to keep these watches, they are given with  my love. If not, give them to someone who might. Love, Dad.’  

A trader who was friends with the family said Madoff considered his sons ‘soft’ because he had worked to make his fortune while they had been given everything on a plate.

‘Mark and Andy had never gone against him. They were always trying to please him, and never could,’ he told Vanity Fair. 

Mark's death is not the first following the fraud scandal. A billionaire associate of Madoff was found dead at his Florida mansion.

Jeffry Picower was discovered at the bottom of his swimming pool in Palm Beach - a seaside playground for America's rich and famous.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

We are no longer accepting comments on this article.

Who is this week's top commenter? Find out now