NEW YORK – Andrew Madoff, Bernard Madoff’s last surviving son, died of cancer today, years after turning his father in and insisting he had been duped like the rest of the world into believing history’s most notorious Ponzi king was an honest financier.
Andrew Madoff, 48, was “surrounded by his loving family” when he died at a New York City hospital from mantle cell lymphoma, his attorney, Martin Flumenbaum, said in a statement.
Andrew Madoff and his brother, Mark, both worked on the legitimate trading side of their father’s Manhattan firm, two floors removed from the private investment business where Bernard Madoff carried out his $65 billion Ponzi scheme over several decades.
Bernard Madoff, 76, was arrested in December 2008. He pleaded guilty to fraud charges months later and is serving a 150-year sentence at a federal prison in North Carolina. Exactly two years after the father’s arrest, Mark Madoff hanged himself in his Manhattan loft apartment as his 2-year-old son slept in another room.
“One way to think of this is the scandal and everything that happened killed my brother very quickly,” Andrew Madoff told People magazine last year. “And it’s killing me slowly.”
Andrew Madoff was first diagnosed with the rare form of cancer in 2003 but went into remission. He blamed the relapse on the stress of living with his father’s scam. The disease returned in October 2012, and he told People magazine that he felt “blindsided.”
Andrew Madoff had served as the chairman of the Lympho6ma Research Foundation’s board of directors until his father’s scheme was revealed. In his statement, Flumenbaum said Andrew Madoff had “lost his courageous battle” with the disease.
The lawyer said funeral arrangements will be private.
The death came as authorities continue to investigate what role, if any, close family members and others linked to the Madoff business had in the fraud. Sentencings are scheduled in several weeks for five former high-level Madoff firm employees convicted of helping carry out the fraud by conspiring to defraud clients and falsifying books and records.
This summer, a court-appointed trustee who has recovered more than half of the nearly $20 billion that thousands of people had invested with Madoff filed a lawsuit claiming that Madoff’s sons used their father’s business as their “personal cookie jar,” accepting sham loans, fictitious trades and deferred compensation. It accused them of knowing about the fraud and trying to cover it up by deleting emails during a Securities and Exchange Commission probe.
“The new allegations are unfounded and false,” Flumenbaum said when the lawsuit was filed. “As we stated from the outset, neither Andrew nor Mark knew of, or knowingly participated, in their father’s criminal conduct. It was Andrew and Mark who informed the authorities of their father’s fraud, and put an end to it.”
During a 2011 “60 Minutes” interview, Andrew Madoff said that from the beginning he had “absolutely nothing to hide and I’ve been eager, almost desperate, to speak out publicly and tell people I am not involved.”
He said he believed his father used the legitimate operations of the trading business that he and his brother worked on to cover up the massive fraud he presided over, even showing clients the legitimate trading operation to dupe them.
“It was one of the hardest things to come to grips with in trying to get my head around this was that feeling that I had been used almost as a human shield by him. It’s unforgivable. No father should do that to their sons,” he told the CBS program.
The book, “Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family,” published in 2011 and promoted through media appearances by Andrew Madoff, described how Bernard Madoff sobbed as he told his sons about the fraud. It said Andrew Madoff at one point draped his arm around his father and cried, too, before the brothers went to lawyers and authorized them to report the fraud to authorities.
“I would love to say that Mark and I were waving the flags of justice in the air, but the bottom line is that we were absolutely terrified. We knew that what we were doing was going to send our father to jail, and the feeling was awful – absolutely awful,” the book quoted him as saying.