Madoff widow writes about life inside Bernie Madoff's family – before and after the scandal
Stephanie Madoff Mack, the first member of the family to speak publicly, writes about the day Bernie Madoff told his family about his Ponzi scheme and how she severed ties with her mother-in-law.
Stephanie Madoff Mack, widow of Bernie Madoff’s son Mark, became the first member of the Madoff family member to speak publicly when her autobiography, “The End of Normal,” was released on Thursday.
The book details Mack's experiences with the Madoff family before the scandal broke; her falling-out with her father- and mother-in-law; and her experience during and after her husband’s suicide, which occurred two years after Bernie Madoff’s arrest. In the book, Mack says that her husband was not involved in his father’s schemes and that he was a “hero” for turning his father in to the authorities. Mark Madoff, his brother Andrew, and their uncle have been scrutinized by the FBI and a bank-appointed trustee who worked to regain money for victims of Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, but none of the three have been charged.
Mack, who changed her name because of the impact of the scandal, appeared on “20/20” and said that if she saw her father-in-law today, she would spit in his face.
“I hold him fully responsible for killing my husband,” Mack said.
Mack’s book discusses the day in the winter of 2008 when Bernie Madoff sat down with his family and told them about his Ponzi scheme and its results, which at that time included $50 billion in debts.
“It’s all one big lie,” Bernie Madoff said, according to Mack.
“Bernie betrayed no emotion or remorse, calmly delivering his bombshell with the cool demeanor of an anchorman reading a wire report on the evenng news,” Mack writes. “When he was done, he began to cry.” Mack’s husband Mark and his brother Andy stormed out, Mack says, and then turned their father in.
“That my husband might somehow have been involved in Bernie’s criminal operation never once crossed my mind,” Mack writes.
Mack’s book includes text messages sent by Bernie Madoff to his son Mark as well as messages and e-mails sent between herself and Mark.
“I'm sorry for all the pain I've caused you,” read a text message sent from Bernie Madoff to Mark, the only apology Mack says her father-in-law ever extended, which was sent in Jan. 2009. “I love you. Love, Dad.” She also includes a letter written to her by Bernie Madoff from prison, in which he writes that the prison is safer for him than walking the streets of New York and brags about the respect and admiration extended to him by his fellow inmates.
“I am quite the celebrity and treated like a Mafia Don,” Madoff wrote.
Mack writes of her experiences and those of her husband after the news about Bernie Madoff broke, including having her credit card declined when buying items for her new baby because of her last name. She also writes about her husband’s first suicide attempt in October 2009, when he went missing for hours and later returned, voice slurred, having gone to a hotel, taken what he said was “thirty Ambiens” and left a note for his father on the bedside table reading, “Bernie: Now you know how you have destroyed the lives of your sons by your life of deceit.”
“[I] did not expect to wake up,” Mack says her husband said to her. Mark Madoff was admitted to a psychiatric facility and released a week later.
Mack also discusses her husband’s suicide, which occurred in Dec. 2010, and of the argument she had with her mother-in-law Ruth days before the memorial service in which she accused Ruth of choosing her husband over her sons, according to Mack.
“You will never see your grandchildren again and you will never see me again,” Mack says she told her mother-in-law.
Mack also includes in “The End of Normal” the beginnings of a book her husband had started to write before his death, hoping to share his side of the story of the Madoff scandal with the world. In the excerpt, Mark Madoff writes of how his father inspired him to be the person he had become, but had also ruined his business reputation.
Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.