Bernie Madoff could be barred from attending his son Mark's funeral, according to rules at the North Carolina prison where he's serving his 150-year sentence, the New York Post reported Sunday.
Mark Madoff was found dead in the living room of his downtown Manhattan apartment Saturday morning, hanging from a black dog leash on the two-year anniversary of his father’s arrest, officials said. The city's medical examiner's office on Sunday formally ruled his death a suicide.
According to the Inmate Handbook at the medium-security Butner Federal Correctional Institution where Madoff is currently incarcerated, supervised furloughs to attend funerals of "immediate family members" are available only to inmates with two years or less pending on their prison terms.
"Furloughs are a privilege, not a right, and are only granted when clearly in the public interest," the handbook says.
A white-collar felon typically can receive an emergency furlough to attend a funeral, said Ed Bales, managing director of Federal Prisons Consultants, "but this is a whole different ballgame."
"I would question whether they'd grant him a furlough because of heightened publicity," Bales said. "He could be a target. He could be shot."
If Madoff is granted permission, he'd be escorted by federal marshals, paid for by his family.
Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Saturday she didn't have specific information on whether Bernard Madoff had been informed of his son's death or would be allowed to attend a service. In general, she said, inmates are informed of a relative's death as soon as the institution is made aware of it.
Officers were called to Mark Madoff’s SoHo residence about 7:30 a.m. after his father-in-law reported finding the 46-year-old Madoff hanging fully clothed from a pipe in the apartment ceiling, police said.
His two-year-old son Nicholas was sleeping in a nearby bedroom and was unharmed, as was Grouper, their labradoodle.
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."
Mark Madoff and his brother Andrew, who notified authorities their father had confessed to them the day before he was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, have said they were unaware of his crimes. But they have remained under investigation and been named in the multiple civil lawsuits accusing them of profiting from the scheme.
Another law enforcement official said Saturday that Madoff's arrest was not imminent, and that investigators pursuing possible charges against him, his brother and uncle hadn't contacted him for more than a year. The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke on condition of anonymity.
A lawyer for Mark's mother, Ruth Madoff, said, "She's heartbroken." The lawyer, Peter Chavkin, had no further comment.
Mark was never charged in the case that sent his father to prison, but for two years he bore the toxic burden of a name that meant fraud to the world.
Bernie Madoff, 72, swindled a long list of investors out of billions of dollars. He admitted that he ran his scheme for at least two decades, cheating thousands of individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors. Losses are estimated at around $20 billion making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.
The scandal has resulted in a half dozen arrests of Madoff associates and put a harsh light on members of the family, which has splintered since Madoff's arrest. Both brothers hadn't spoken to their parents since they turned their father in.
The financier's brother, Peter, played a prominent role in the family's company. 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.
In February, Mark Madoff's wife asked a court to change her last name and the last names of their two children to Morgan, saying her family had gotten threats and was humiliated by the scandal.
A year ago, the court-appointed trustee trying to unravel Bernie Madoff's financial affairs sued several relatives, including sons Mark and Andrew and Madoff's brother, Peter, 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.
The trustee, Irving Picard, continues to try and recover money for investors. On Friday he filed a pair of lawsuits, a $900 million one against two accountants, and a civil racketeering case accusing offshore bankers of assisting Madoff in his fraud. Taken together, the actions seem to broaden the number of accomplices Picard thinks are responsible in Madoff's decades worth of fraud, even though the financier insisted to authorities that he acted alone.
A police officer stood guard in the lobby of Mark Madoff's 12-story luxury loft apartment building in SoHo on Saturday morning. Bystanders gawked as officials from the medical examiner's office death.
Madoff graduated from the University of Michigan and was a licensed broker with his father's firm since 1987. He grew up in Roslyn, New York, and has two other children from a previous marriage, ages 18 and 16.
The Associated Press and Newscore contributed to this report.