Ruth Madoff, the wife of financial schemer Bernard Bernie Madoff, said in an interview airing Sunday that the couple attempted suicide after Bernie's estimated $65 million Ponzi scheme came to public light.
According to excerpts of the interview airing Sunday on CBS' 60 Minutes, Ruth Madoff said the couple attempted to overdose on pills on Christmas Eve in 2008.
I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening, Ruth Madoff said in the 60 Minutes interview.
Bernie Madoff, now 73 years old, is currently serving 150 years in prison after pleading guilty to 11 charges accusing him of operating a Ponzi scheme that ran for decades and cost his investors billions. It is largely considered the most fraudulent scheme in history.
Madoff was ultimately arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, and he pleaded guilty to all 11 charges against him of stealing money from thousands of investors on March 12, 2009.
Ruth Madoff said she and Bernie tried to commit suicide shortly after the arrest by taking Ambien sleeping pills and possibly Klonopin anti-anxiety pills. But she said that ultimately, she was glad the couple's plan did not work.
We took pills and woke up the next day, Ruth said in the interview. It was very impulsive, and I am glad we woke up.
Ruth also said that she and Bernie became extremely depressed from the fallout of the revelation of Bernie's Ponzi scheme. And she added that Christmastime added to the whole depression.
We had terrible phone calls, she said. hate mail, just beyond anything and I said, ... 'I just can't go on anymore.'
Though the couple's suicide impulse didn't carry through, one of their sons' did. On Dec. 11, 2010, the second anniversary of Bernie Madoff's arrest, their elder son Mark, 46, hanged himself in his New York apartment. Mark and Andrew, the couple's other son, told police of Bernie's Ponzi scheme the day after he had confessed to them.
60 Minutes also interviewed Andrew Madoff, who told the program that before Ruth and Bernie's suicide attempt, they sent a package to him, full of sentimental items including jewelry. Three years later, Andrew found out why his mother had sent the package.
She told me that she and my father had planned to kill themselves, Andrew Madoff said in the 60 Minutes interview. They put that package together beforehand and sent it out.
None of Bernie Madoff's family members, including his wife and sons, have been charged with any crimes as part of Bernie's operation. Bernie has always professed to running the Ponzi scheme operation alone.
Federal investigators believe Bernie Madoff began the Ponzi scheme as early as the 1970s, but Madoff has said he started it in the early 1990s.