I’ve always been dubious about the claim by Bernie Madoff’s sons that they knew nothing about the massive fraud perpetrated by their father even though they both worked in the family business. On the other hand, I’ve also never seen definitive proof of their involvement. The question is at issue in lawsuits filed trying to recover millions of dollars in assets still held by the Madoff family.
Over the weekend, however, 46-year-old Mark Madoff ended his role in the scandal by hanging himself with a dog leash in his Manhattan apartment. His two-year-old son was found alone in the next room. The younger Madoff’s death came on the two-year anniversary of his father’s arrest, and you have a sense that this scandal will keep playing itself out over generations, like something in a Henry James novel.
It cannot have been an easy two years. Mark Madoff’s wife had already changed her last name and that of their two children from Madoff to Morgan, to escape the stigma of the name. And even if Mark knew about or suspected wrongdoing — an answer that he probably takes to his grave — he was brought up since childhood in that environment and was to a large degree another victim of his father’s greed and callousness.
I feel no such sympathy for the elder Madoff. By allowing his sons to work with him, regardless of how much they knew, he ensured that they too would be ensnared in his inevitable collapse. His eldest son’s death is on his hands, on his already heavily burdened soul.
Karma’s a bitch.
– Jay Bookman