Exclusive: Madoff Widow Blames Bernie for Son's Suicide Attempts, Death

PHOTO: Stephanie Mack, the daughter-in-law of Bernie Madoff, speaks in an exclusive interview with ABCs Chris Cuomo.
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While many lost their fortunes thanks to Bernie Madoff -- the man who orchestrated the largest financial fraud scam in U.S. history – Stephanie Madoff Mack lost her husband. Now, the widow of Mark Madoff, Bernie Madoff's oldest son, is the first inside member of the Madoff family to speak out, divulging the story of the death that she says can be traced directly to Bernie Madoff's unbelievable deception.

In a searing and emotional interview to be broadcast Friday on "20/20," Mack details how a privileged life in one of the richest families in America turned into a living nightmare after Madoff's Ponzi scheme was uncovered. Mack says the ordeal led Mark Madoff to commit suicide last December, on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest. Mark had first attempted suicide in 2009, Stephanie reveals for the first time.

"He couldn't get out, he was so betrayed and so hurt by Bernie," she said.

"I hate Bernie Madoff," Stephanie said. "If I saw Bernie Madoff right now, I would tell him that I hold him fully responsible for killing my husband, and I'd spit in his face."


Mark and Stephanie Madoff
Mark and Stephanie in 2004.
/Courtesy Stephanie Mack

Mack has written a book on her life as a Madoff, "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life," scheduled for release tomorrow by Blue Rider Press.

Stephanie, then 30, married Mark Madoff, the handsome and wealthy 40-year-old divorced father of two, in October, 2004. In attendance at their Nantucket Island wedding were many investors in Bernie Madoff's fraudulent hedge fund.


Mark and Stephanie Madoff
Mark and Stephanie with baby Audrey.
/Courtesy Stephanie Mack

"He stood there in the corner at my wedding watching everyone dance, and he knew that everyone in that room was going to get screwed," said Mack.

The couple went on to have two children -- a daughter, Audrey, and a son, Nick.

For Mack, marrying into the Madoff clan meant entry to the world of the super rich. Mark and his brother Andrew headed up a highly successful stock trading operation; just two floors up in the same office building, their father Bernie ran his now-notorious investment fund. He and his wife Ruth lived a high-flying lifestyle with homes in New York City, Montauk, Palm Beach and the south of France.

But in December of 2008, the good times came crashing down for the Madoff family. Mark and Andrew turned in their own father after he confessed to them that his $65 billion investment fund was actually a Ponzi scheme and that the double-digit returns clients had received year after year were bogus – in fact, Bernie hadn't made a single trade in decades.


Madoffs on yacht./Courtesy Stephanie Mack
Bernie Madoff, a huge boating fan, would often take
the Madoff clan on trips to tropical destinations.
/Courtesy Stephanie Mack

Mack said that decision came at a heavy cost to her husband, who had loved and admired his father.

"He was in pure shock, and you could see the betrayal on his face, and in his body," said Mack. "And he was enraged, as well. Furious that his father could've done this and, you know, destroyed so many lives, and destroyed his."

Even though he had blown the whistle on his father, Mark Madoff was targeted by angry investors and sued for $65 million he had received from Bernie over his lifetime. His assets were frozen and he and Stephanie were put on a monthly allowance by the bankruptcy court. Accusations were also leveled that Mark and other family members were in on Bernie Madoff's criminal enterprise.

"We were being treated as if we had done something wrong. And we had done nothing wrong," said Mack. "We felt as if our life had been taken away from us and we kept looking for the nightmare to end."

Mack said the unrelenting scrutiny from the public and media drove her emotionally sensitive husband into a deep depression. He took pills to combat anxiety and insomnia, and became obsessed with every detail of the Madoff scandal.

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