NEW YORK – He was never charged in the case that sent his father to prison after thousands were swindled of their life savings, but for two years, the eldest son of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff still bore the toxic burden of a name that meant fraud to the world.
On Saturday, the second anniversary of the day his father was arrested in the worst investment fraud in American history, Mark Madoff, 46, was found dead in the living room of his SoHo loft apartment in Manhattan. He was hanging from a black dog leash while his 2-year-old son slept nearby.
People close to him said he was despondent over press coverage of his father's case, an ongoing criminal investigation of Madoff family members in the multibillion-dollar scheme and his struggle to rebuild his life.
The intense scrutiny approaching the anniversary "became too much for him," said a person who had recent contact with him, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case.
Mark Madoff's wife, Stephanie, sent her stepfather to the couple's $6 million apartment after he e-mailed her at Disney World in Florida, where she was vacationing with their 4-year-old daughter. In the messages, he told her he loved her and that someone should check on their 2-year-old child, Nicholas, police said. He left no suicide note.
The person who had recent contact with Madoff said he was struggling to find steady employment and was upset by coverage of his father's case, including a slew of stories in the past week about investor lawsuits.
"Mark Madoff took his own life today. This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy," his attorney, Martin Flumenbaum, said in a written statement. "Mark was an innocent victim of his father's monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo."