Bernard Madoff's oldest son committed suicide by hanging himself in his home in SoHo, law enforcement officials confirmed, and his death came on the anniversary of his infamous father's arrest.
Mark Madoff was found Saturday morning in the living room of his $6 million apartment on Mercer Street in SoHo. Police sources said he hanged himself from a pipe in the living room with a dog's leash. A family member positively identified the body on Sunday, and the medical examiner confirmed the cause of death.
Mark Madoff's wife, Stephanie, sent her stepfather to the couple's home 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.
Madoff's two year-old son, who was sleeping in the next room, was not harmed. The family dog was also uninjured, investigators said.
A law enforcement official confirmed Mark sent an email to his lawyer urging him to help "take care of my family" and that "no one wants to hear the truth." In an email to his wife, the official said Madoff wrote "I love you" and "...send someone to take care of Nick" -- their two-year-old son.
Saturday marked the two-year anniversary of the arrest of Bernie Madoff, who pleaded guilty to 11 federal crimes and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars.
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, 46, was the oldest of the two Madoff sons. The scandal put a harsh light on members of the swindler's family. The financier's brother, Peter, played a prominent role in the family's company. Sons Mark and Andrew Madoff both worked on a trading desk at the firm, on a side of the business that wasn't directly involved in the Ponzi scheme.
But officials said the pair did take tens of millions millions in loans and compensation from the company. The FBI and IRS are still looking into whether any crimes were committed by the sons. Officials have said any decision on charges by US Attorney Preet Bharara is still months away. Spokesmen for the US Attorney, IRS and FBI declined comment Saturday.
Last year, the court-appointed trustee trying to unravel Madoff's financial affairs sued several members of the family, including the brothers, 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 $66 million he received improperly to buy luxury homes in New York City, Nantucket and Connecticut.
In February, Mark Madoff's wife petitioned a court to change her last name, saying her family had gotten threats and was humiliated by the scandal.
Although he was not charged in his father's Ponzi scheme, he and his brother Andew were the target of a recent lawsuit by one of their former employees over bonus money he claims to have lost because of the Ponzi scheme.
Many associated with Madoff expressed shock and disbelief at the news this morning.
Martin Flumenbaum of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, an attorney representing Mark and Andrew Madoff, released a statement earlier today after learning about the suicide.
"This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy," he said. "Mark was an innocent victim of his father’s monstrous crime who succumbed to two years of unrelenting pressure from false accusations and innuendo. We are all deeply saddened by this shocking turn of events.”
Ira Lee Sorkin, Bernard Madoff's attorney, told CNBC: "This is a tragedy on many levels."
The Madoff Trustee is suing members of the Madoff family for $200 million in an attempt to recover any ill-gotten funds. The trustee Irving Picard issued a statement about Madoff's death."This is a tragic development and my sympathy goes out to Mark Madoff's family." He declined to say if any settlement talks had been underway with Mark Madoff.
The last time Mark Madoff had any contact whatsoever with his father was the day Bernard Madoff confessed -- December 10, 2008.