Sole Focus

News, Views, Rantings & Ramblings by Carey Parrish

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Location: Georgia, United States

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Mark Madoff Found Dead in Manhattan Apartment, Apparent Suicide

From Yahoo! News

By COLLEEN LONG and TOM HAYS, Associated Press Colleen Long And Tom Hays, Associated Press – 1 min ago

NEW YORK – Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff's eldest son hanged himself by a dog leash in his apartment Saturday, exactly two years after his father's arrest in a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that swindled thousands of investors of their life savings.

Mark Madoff, 46, was found hanging from a ceiling pipe in the living room of his SoHo loft apartment as his 2-year-old son slept in a nearby bedroom, two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press.

Madoff, who reported his father to authorities, has never been criminally charged in the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history and has said he and his brother Andrew never knew of their father's crimes. A law enforcement official told the AP that Mark was not facing imminent arrest and hadn't spoken to investigators pursuing possible charges in over a year.

But he and other Madoff relatives have remained under investigation and been named in multiple investor lawsuits accusing them of profiting from the scheme.

"This is a terrible and unnecessary tragedy," Madoff's lawyer, 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."

A lawyer for Mark's mother, Ruth Madoff, said, "She's heartbroken."

Mark Madoff's body was discovered after his wife, Stephanie, became concerned when he sent an e-mail to her early Saturday morning that someone should check on their 2-year-old son, said the law enforcement officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly about the death.

Madoff's wife, who is at Disney World in Florida with her 4-year-old daughter, sent her stepfather to the home. The toddler was found unharmed, along with a dog.

Bernard 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.

He was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, after confessing his crimes to his sons.

The scandal put a harsh light on members of the family. 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 petitioned a court to change her last name and the last names of their two children, saying her family had gotten threats and was humiliated by the scandal.

Just days ago, a court-appointed trustee filed a lawsuit seeking to recover any money from the fraud scheme that had been paid to members of the Madoff family, including Mark Madoff's two young children.

At least a half-dozen Madoff employees have also faced criminal charges.

A year ago, the trustee, Irving Picard, sued several relatives, including Peter, Mark and Andrew, 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.

"This is a tragic development and my sympathy goes out to Mark Madoff's family," Picard said in a statement Saturday.

Said Bernard Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin: "This is a great tragedy on many different levels."

Calls to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office were also not immediately returned. Previously, spokespeople for the brothers had repeatedly denied that they had any knowledge of their father's crimes.

Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence in North Carolina. Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley said Saturday she didn't have specific information on whether he 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 and the bureau does allow furloughs for prisoners to attend memorial services.

A police officer stood guard Saturday morning in the lobby of Mark Madoff's building, a 12-story luxury condo tower with a penthouse owned by rocker Jon Bon Jovi.

The building sits on a busy block abutting Broadway in an area crowded with clothing boutiques, cafes and art galleries. The sidewalks and cobblestone streets near the apartment were packed with Christmas shoppers Saturday, as dozens of reporters stood vigil.

Bystanders gawked as officials from the medical examiner's office removed the body early Saturday afternoon. The medical examiner will determine the cause of death.

Nikolay Reva, a 28-year-old salesman in the Prada boutique on same block, said that Mark and his wife would come in with their children to shop, both before and after the scandal broke two years ago.

Mark "was very sweet, respectful, friendly," said Reva. "But after his father's arrest, you could see the person diminishing slowly, you could see something started to happen physically, and he wasn't as talkative."

Superb Saturday

In 1998, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton invited to the White House a group of twelve college friends who’d sung together in an a capella group. They called themselves Straight No Chaser and the song they performed was the standard The 12 Days of Christmas. They made it even more of a classic than it already way.

This group of talented vocalists shot to stardom on the power of their White House performance. Including the old Toto hit Africa, they thrilled the audience and made history. This song has been downloaded now more than any other holiday tune up to this point. Straight No Chaser is still getting together at least once a year and doing live shows as well. These guys have it, whatever it is.

This video is pure magic. I love it more every time I see it. Thankfully I am not alone in my admiration for these talented men. Straight No Chaser, indeed.

This Day in History: December 11

1282 - Llywelyn (Llewelyn ap Gruffydd) was killed in Cilmeri, central Wales.

1719 - The first recorded sighting of the Aurora Borealis was in New England.

1769 - Edward Beran of London patented venetian blinds.

1792 - France's King Louis XVI went before the Convention, which had replaced the National Assembly, to face charges of treason. He was convicted and condemned and was sent to the guillotine the following January.

1816 - Indiana was admitted to the Union as the 19th American state.

1844 - Dr. Horace Wells became the first person to have a tooth extracted after receiving an anesthetic for the dental procedure. Nitrous Oxide, or laughing gas, was the anesthetic.

1872 - Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback became America's first black governor when he took office as acting governor of Louisiana.

1882 - Boston's Bijou Theater had its first performance. It was the first American playhouse lit exclusively by electricity.

1894 - The world's first motor show opened in Paris with nine exhibitors.

1928 - In Buenos Aires, police thwarted an attempt on the life of President-elect Herbert Hoover.

1930 - The Bank of the United States in New York failed.

1936 - Britain's King Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry American Wallis Warfield Simpson. He became the Duke of Windsor.

1937 - The Fascist Council in Rome, withdrew Italy from the League of Nations.

1941 - Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. The U.S in turn declared war on the two countries.

1943 - The City Center of Music and Drama was dedicated in New York by Mayor Fiorello La Guardia.

1946 - The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) was established by the U.N. General Assembly. The fund provides relief to children in countries devastated by war.

1951 - Joe DiMaggio (New York Yankees) announced his retirement from major league baseball. DiMaggio only played for the Yankees during his 13-year career.

1961 - The first direct American military support for South Vietnam occurred when a U.S. aircraft carrier carrying Army helicopters arrived in Saigon.

1967 - The prototype of the Concorde was shown for the first time in Toulouse, France.

1973 - West German Chancellor Willy Brandt and Czech Prime Minister Lubomir Strougal formally nullified the 1938 Munich pact when they signed a treaty sanctioning Hitler's seizure of Czechoslovakia's Sudetenland.

1980 - U.S. President Jimmy Carter signed into law legislation creating $1.6 billion environmental "superfund" that would be used to pay for cleaning up chemical spills and toxic waste dumps.

1981 - Muhammad Ali fought his last fight. He lost his 61st fight to Trevor Berbick.

1985 - The U.S. House of Representatives joined the U.S. Senate by giving final congressional approval to the Gramm-Rudman deficit-reduction law.

1985 - General Electric Company agreed to buy RCA Corporation for $6.3 billion. Also included in the deal was NBC Radio and Television.

1986 - The government of South Africa expanded its media restrictions by imposing prior censorship and banning coverage of a wide range of peaceful anti-apartheid protests.

1987 - Charlie Chaplin's trademark cane and bowler hat were sold at Christie's for £82,500.

1988 - 62 people were killed in a Mexico City marketplace when tons of illegal fireworks exploded.

1990 - Ivana Trump was divorced from Donald Trump after 12 years of marriage.

1991 - Salman Rushdie, under an Islamic death sentence for blasphemy, made his first public appearance since 1989 in New York, at a dinner marking the 200th anniversary of the First Amendment (which guarantees freedom of speech in the U.S.).

1994 - Thousands of Russian troops, armored columns and jets entered Chechnya. The move by Moscow was an effort to restore control the breakaway republic.

1994 - The world's largest free trade zone was created when leaders of 34 Western Hemisphere nations signed a free-trade declaration known as "The Miami Process."

1996 - In Crystal City, VA, "The Art of the Toy" opened. The exhibit was at the Patent and Trademark Office Museum.

1997 - Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams became the first political ally of the IRA to meet a British leader in 76 years. He conferred with Prime Minister Tony Blair in London.

1997 - More than 270 Tutsi refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo were killed by Juto guerillas in Mudende, Rwanda.

1997 - More than 150 countries agreed at a global warming conference in Kyoto, Japan, to control the Earth's "greenhouse gases."

1998 - Scientists announced that they had deciphered the entire genetic blueprint of a tiny worm.

1998 - The Mars Climate Orbiter blasted off on a nine-month journey to the Red Planet. However, the probe disappeared in September of 1999, apparently destroyed because scientists had failed to convert English measures to metric values.

1998 - Majority Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee pushed through three articles of impeachment against U.S. President Clinton.

2000 - Mario Lemeiux, owner of Pittsburgh Penquins, announced that he would end his three-plus year retirement and become an active National Hockey League (NHL) player again. When Lemieux returned officially he became the first owner/player in NHL history.

2001 - U.S. Attorney General Ashcroft announced the first federal indictment directly related to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001. Zacarias Moussaoui was charged with six conspiracy charges. Moussaoui was in custody at the time of the attacks.

2001 - Ted Turner purchased 12,000 acres in Nebraska for Bison ranches.

2001 - It was announced that U.S. President George W. Bush would withdraw the U.S. from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.

2001 - Federal agents seized computers in 27 U.S. cities as part of "Operation Buccaneer." The raids were used to gain evidence against an international software piracy ring.

Saturday's Flashback

The news that Aretha Franklin is facing pancreatic cancer has spread through the world of show business like a wildfire. Aretha, the Queen of Soul, the voice whose style and intonation have influenced an entire generation of performers, seems immortal. This lady has continued to make hits and remain a star of the highest echelon for over forty years. She is truly legendary; second only to Tina Turner in terms of popularity.

As Aretha gears up for whatever fight she faces, it is with gusto that we celebrate her rich legacy of hits. (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman is one of her best known numbers and also one of her biggest successes. Reaching the Billboard Top Ten in 1968, this song’s longevity has far surpassed its original hit momentum. It has become an anthem and a jewel in the crown of the Queen of Soul.

In a rare television appearance from the late sixties, Aretha performs her hit live before a studio audience; one that is rapturous in its appreciation of this lady’s gift. Aretha is Americana, pure and simple.

Thought for Today

What is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander but is not necessarily sauce for the chicken, the duck, the turkey or the guinea hen. -- Alice B. Toklas