Key Madoff Figure Dies

Philanthropist, attorney, and long-time Bernard Madoff associate and friend, Jeffry M. Picower (67), has died. Picower was accused of making more than $7 billion from the massive Ponzi scheme orchestrated by the now-imprisoned Madoff, said the Associated Press (AP).

The disgraced financier and former New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) chairman is spending 150 years in prison for orchestrating the historic scam estimated to have cost duped investors an incomprehensible $65 billion. With the death of Picower, financial experts fear that the many and growing financial complexities involved in locating the defrauded funds will only increase, said the AP.

Barbara, Picower’s wife, is said to have discovered her husband’s body at the bottom of the pool at what the AP described as the Picower’s “oceanside mansion.” Barbara Picower, with the help of a housekeeper, pulled the body from the pool, said the AP, citing authorities. Jeffry was pronounced dead at 1:30 in the afternoon at the Good Samaritan Medical Center; while Palm Beach Police are investigating the death as a drowning, no cause is being ruled out, reported the AP. Of note, the county property office appraised Picower’s home and property at being valued in excess of $33 million, said the AP.

The family’s legal counsel said the philanthropist was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and “heart-related issues”; Picower’s heath was described as “poor.” There were no apparent injuries on Picower’s body and he was wearing swimming trunks when he was found, added the AP.

The trustee charged with liquidating Madoff’s assets, Irving Picard, recently filed a lawsuit against Picower in the growing legal actions surrounding the Madoff fiasco. According to a prior Wall Street Journal report, there is allegedly evidence that Picower told Madoff what return he wanted on his investments with him, and his accounts would eventually reflect those returns. The trustee claims that Picower sought and received better returns than thousands of other Madoff investors, for instance returns of more than 100 percent in 14 instances, reaching as high as 950 percent. Duped Madoff investors have accused Picower of being the “biggest beneficiary” of Madoff’s scandal, said the AP.

Picower long maintained his innocence, claiming he was also duped by the Ponzi scammer; however, the trustee’s lawyer said Picower’s claims “ring hollow” noting that he took more money from other investor’s funds than anyone else during the 30-year debacle and should have been aware of the fraud, reported the AP, especially given that the accounts were “riddled with blatant and obvious fraud” and Picower was described by the attorneysas a “sophisticated investor,” who likely would have recognized the fraud. Regardless, Picower requested the lawsuit be dismissed.

In 1989, the Picower’s created the Picower Foundation, said the AP, noting that the foundation donated millions of dollars to a number of organizations, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Human Rights First, and the New York Public Library. The foundation also provided funding for Harvard Medical School diabetes research. Picower Foundation assets were managed by Madoff and were valued at close to $1 billion based on its 2007 tax return, added the AP.

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