Heart Attack: Natural Causes Send Madoff Billionaire to the Bottom of the Pool

Toxicology report pending for man who gained most out of Madoff's scheme.

October 26, 2009, 11:43 AM

Oct. 26, 2009 — -- The body of Jeffry Picower, the man who pulled more money -- $7 billion -- out of the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme, underwent an autopsy today and the cause of death is determined to be drowning as a result of a massive heart attack, according to Dr. Michael Bell, the medical examiner who performed the autopsy.

Bell told ABC News that the toxicology results will take ten weeks and if there is anything found that could have contributed to Picower's death he will amend the death certificate.

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The body can now be released for burial, according to Bell.

"Usually the family will have a funeral home fax a release form, at which time we will hand over the body to the funeral home for burial," said Bell.

Picower's wife Barbara called 911 yesterday at around noon when she noticed her husband, who had been swimming in the pool outside their gigantic Palm Beach mansion, had sunk to the bottom.

"There was a 15 minute window from the time that she saw him actually conscious and swimming in the pool until she went back out and saw that he was not responding and that he had actually gone to the bottom of the pool," a rescue worker told ABC News.

Palm Beach Fire Department spokesman Joe Sekula said that rescue workers found Picower without a pulse and though they were able to restore his pulse in the ambulance, he died at Good Samaritan Medical Center in West Palm Beach.

The Palm Beach Police Department said the investigation is ongoing, and the 911 tape will be released when the investigation has concluded.

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"There are still so many factors that can affect the length of the investigation," Palm Beach Police Department Spokeswoman Janet Kinsella told ABC News.

Picower's attorney William Zabel told ABC News Sunday that the family was shocked at the death of his client and were grieving.

Marcia Horowitz, a spokeswoman for the Picower family, said today that Picower had a number of heart related medical issues, as well as Parkinson's disease.

Picower Greatly Benefited From Madoff Scheme

No one benefited more from the Madoff scheme than Picower, according to bankruptcy lawyers who sued him and alleged he had taken out $7 billion more than he had put in.

Investigators told ABC News that Picower would also have likely faced criminal charges.

Some investigators considered Picower to have been the actual mastermind of Madoff's massive con, or at least an equal "partner in crime."

"He made 30 times what Madoff did from the scam and about a third of the missing money went to Picower," said one of the investigators on the case Sunday.

Picower, a tax shelter lawyer and accountant, was not well known in financial circles until his name surfaced in the Madoff case in the past few months. His $7 billion profit stunned other Madoff investors, many of whom lost their life savings.

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Investigators say Madoff documents show that Picower regularly gave instructions for Madoff to create phony trades on his behalf so that he could withdraw billions.

The lawsuit brought by the bankruptcy trustee named Picower, his wife Barbara and the Picower Foundation, which gave generously to charities.

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