Bernie Madoff's Son, Wife Open Up to '60 Minutes' (Video)
Ruth admits she "blames herself" for her son Mark's suicide and says she “doesn’t know” if she would have turned him in if she knew of his $60 billion ponzi scheme.
The estranged wife and son of convicted ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff made their much-anticipated appearance on CBS' 60 Minutes Sunday night. ahead of the release of the book Truth and Consequences. Watch the video, below.
Ruth and Andrew Madoff spoke of their feelings about Bernie's 150-year prison sentence for creating the $60 million scheme, the suicide of Bernie's son Mark, Bernie and Ruth's hasty suicide attempt, and more.
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Admitted Ruth, who was married to Madoff for decades, "Of course I feel the shame. I can barely walk down the street without worrying about people recognizing me."
Andrew says, "From the very beginning of this whole episode-- I've had absolutely nothing to hide. And I've been eager, I would say almost desperate to speak out publicly and tell people that I'm absolutely not involved.
Ruth continues to claim she had no idea Bernie's financial services were all a scam.
"I can't explain it. I mean I trusted him. Why would it ever occur to me that it wasn't legal? The business was--his reputation was almost legendary. Why would I ever think that there was something sinister going on?" she says.
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"I never did. I never did. It didn't seem that way. There was nothing that would make me suspect anything. Sometimes I look back and I think as the years went on, he started to get more and more short tempered and maybe he just was having trouble, obviously, he had to have been," she adds.
Andrew was put off by the lack of a succession plan, but had no idea what his father was up to.
"His plan was that he had no plan. And he would say that when he dies, his end of the business dies. And again, it was always the-- the same response, 'That's the way it is and it's not gonna change,'" recalls Andrew.
When asked if Andrew thought he was being used by his father, he said "absolutely," and added that his father would walk potential clients through the division that Andrew ran, which was legit.
"It was one of the hardest things to come to grips with, in trying to get my head around this, was that feeling that I had been used-- almost as-- as a human shield by him. He-- it's-- it's unforgivable. No-- no father should do that to their sons," he says.
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After Bernie revealed to his family that he was running an giant ponzi sceme, "she looked shocked," Andrew says of his mother. "She asked 'What's a Ponzi scheme?' was her first question. She didn't even understand that. I think it was me who answered and said that, "It means that it's all fake. That Dad's-- you know, his-- he's not been doing what he says he's been doing." And he followed that up and said, "Yes. I've been lying to all of you-- all of these years. I've been lying to everybody. I've been lying to myself.'"
Ruth admits that even if she had known of Bernie's scheme, she's not sure if she would have turned him in.
"I'm glad I didn't [know]," she says. "That woulda been tough, but I-- I would have left. Whether I'd turn him in or not, I don't know. I like to think I would have, but I-- I-- I couldn't say. I'm being completely honest with you, I have to say."
She also discusses their hasty decision to commit suicide by taking Ambien.
" I don't know who-- whose idea it was. But we decided to kill ourselves because it was-- it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls, hate mail. Just beyond anything. And I said, "I can't-- I just can't go on anymore." That's when I packed up some things to send to my sons and my grandchildren. I had some lovely antique things and things that I thought they might want. I mailed them, it was Christmas Eve, that added to the whole depression. We took pills and woke up the next day," she says.
60 Minutes' interview comes the same week as ABC News' Barbara Walters' interview with Bernie from prison, and Stephanie Madoff Mack's (the widow of Bernie's son, Mark) memoir The End of Normal.