Picower, Big Madoff Investor, Found Dead In His Pool

Oct 26 2009 | 12:48pm ET

Jeffry Picower, said to be the largest individual beneficiary of Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, was found dead yesterday in his Palm Beach, Fla., pool.

Picower, who allegedly withdrew more than $7.2 billion from his accounts with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities over the past two decades, was found at the bottom of the pool by his wife, Barbara, who runs his charitable foundation. He was rushed to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead about an hour and a half later; an autopsy is being performed today to determine the cause of death.

Picower was the single-largest beneficiary of Madoff’s fraud, the court-appointed receiver in the case claims. Irving Picard said Picower withdrew about $5 billion in fake profits, including $2.4 billion over the past six years. Picower, a longtime friend of Madoff’s, has claimed he was duped by the fraudster, who is serving a 150-year prison term for his crimes.

According to Picard, Picower’s accounts “were riddled with blatant and obvious fraud.” The philanthropist earned “returns” of between 300% and 950% per year on his Madoff investments. What’s more, prosecutors had reportedly found evidence that Picower actually told Madoff how much he wanted in returns, requests Madoff filled. No charges had been filed against Picower at the time of his death.

Picard said today that the lawsuit against Picower and the Picower Foundation would continue.

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