The death of Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff has dredged up memories of the destruction and pain left behind in the wake of perhaps the most infamous Wall Street scheme in recent history.
Madoff, 82, died while serving a 150-year prison sentence stemming from fraud charges that involved cheating thousands of investors, including the filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, out of billions in promised returns.
His decades of deception stretched to his loved ones, including his wife, Ruth, whom he met in high school and married in 1959. She was never charged in connection with her husband’s massive fraud, and did not divorce him even after she attempted to distance herself from the scandal.
Ruth Madoff is escorted by private security as she leaves the Metropolitan Correctional Center after visiting her husband disgraced financier Bernard Madoff on April 6, 2009.Mary Altaffer / AP
In 2011, Ruth said during an interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show that she did not miss her imprisoned husband, adding that “the villain of all this is behind bars.” In a separate interview that aired on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” she also confessed to attempting suicide on Christmas Eve in 2008.
“I don’t know whose idea it was but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous,” she said, referring to her husband. “I said I just can’t go on anymore.”
Ruth was forced to surrender her fortune when her husband was convicted. She moved to Connecticut, NBC New York reported, and has since shirked the public eye.
Their eldest son, Mark, 46, who died by suicide in 2010, had worked at his father’s trading desk. His last known contact with Madoff was in 2008, NBC New York reported. He left no note but reportedly contacted his wife, who was vacationing in Florida with their daughter, urging her to check on their youngest child, who was home at the time of his death.
Bernard Madoff’s sons, was found dead of an apparent suicide on Dec. 11, 2010.
Mark Madoff, one of Bernard Madoff’s sons, was found dead of an apparent suicide on Dec. 11, 2010.Kimberly Unger / Security Traders Association of New York via AP, file
Mark died on the anniversary of his father’s arrest two years prior. His younger brother, Andrew, died from lymphoma in 2014. He was 48.
Like his mother, Andrew was never charged in his father’s scheme and denied knowing what his father had been doing for decades. At the time of his death, Andrew was the subject of a lawsuit by a court-appointed trustee working to recover funds for investors. The lawsuit alleged that both Andrew and Mark knew more about their father’s plot than they ever admitted.
“As difficult as it is for me to live with the pain I have inflicted on so many, there is nothing to compare with the degree of pain I endure with the loss of my sons, Mark and Andy,” Madoff told NBC News in 2015.
Madoff involved his younger brother, Peter, in his dealings. Peter Madoff was sentenced in 2012 to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to criminal charges that included conspiracy to commit securities fraud for falsifying the books and records of the investment advisory company founded by his brother.
Peter Madoff arrives at Manhattan federal court for his sentencing, Dec. 20, 2012.Louis Lanzano / AP file
A lawyer, Peter worked as the chief compliance officer and a senior managing director at his brother’s firm. Prosecutors said he helped create false and misleading documents designed to make it appear that the firm had an effective compliance program. He also transferred millions of dollars within the Madoff family to avoid tax payments to the IRS and also put his wife on the firm’s payroll in a no-show job.
“I am deeply ashamed of my conduct,” Peter said at his sentencing. “I accept full responsibility for my actions.”
He was released from home confinement in 2020 after serving nine years of his sentence. He had been transferred to home confinement from the Federal Correctional Institution in Miami in November 2019.