Bernie Madoff's Son Commits Suicide

What prompted Mark Madoff to take his life?

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Mark Madoff, Bernie Madoff's 46-year-old son, hanged himself in his Manhattan apartment Saturday, on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest for orchestrating what could be the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history. Mark, who served as head trader at his father's firm and, along with his younger brother Andrew, turned his father in to U.S. authorities after he confessed his fraud to them, was under criminal investigation but had not yet been charged with any criminal wrongdoing. Only days before his suicide, he was sued by the trustee in charge of recovering assets for victims of Bernie Madoff's scheme.

It is unclear whether Bernie Madoff, who is serving a 150 year prison sentence, will be permitted to attend Mark's funeral.

What motivated Mark Madoff to take his life? And how will the suicide inflect the Madoff investigation?

  • His Father's Fraud Weighed Heavily on Him, notes The Wall Street Journal's Aaron Lucchetti. Mark Madoff followed the Madoff legal case closely and was distraught about reports that he had a hand in his father's Ponzi scheme, Lucchetti explains. In the wake of their father's arrest, as both brothers cut off communication with their parents, Andrew took to biking and began working with his fiancée in her consulting business while Mark had a harder time coping. As his legal bills piled up, he failed to find a job on Wall Street and instead worked on iPad applications. In a subsequent article, Lucchetti and other reporters add that Madoff was concerned his children would suffer a life of harassment.
  • And Maintaining His Innocence Was Becoming Increasingly Difficult, argues The Daily Beast's Allan Dodds Frank:
The Madoff brothers and Bernie's brother Peter have faced ever-increasing pressure from criminal prosecutors, the bankruptcy trustee and angry investors ... Investigators believe that even if the brothers did not know much about their father's Ponzi scheme, as officers of the firm and recipients of tens of millions of dollars from their parents, they may have committed a series of crimes including tax fraud, falsifying records, wire and mail fraud.
  • He May Have Been an Oblivious But Innocent Pawn in His Father's Theft, states Joshua Brown at The Reformed Broker: "From what I've read and seen, I never really thought that either of the sons were involved in the fraud. They came off as overpriveleged, goofy brats that dreamt about fishing trips and fleece vests. They never struck me as sinister."
  • Does Bernie Madoff Now Regret Pleading Guilty? wonders Doug Berman at PrawfsBlog: "At the time of his guilty plea, the only significant benefit Bernie seemed to garner was the chance to try to protect his family from some of the fall-out from his crime. But the suicide of his son suggests that Bernie's efforts to shield his family were not especially successful."
  • The Attention Will Shift to Andrew, claims The Daily Beast's Dodds Frank, in a follow-up post. The Madoff brothers had similar responsibilities at their father's firm, Dodds Frank says, and legal challenges will continue unabated against Andrew and Mark's estate.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.