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Mark Madoff's death won't halt funds search

Mark Madoff, far right, is seen with his

Mark Madoff, far right, is seen with his father, disgraced financier Bernard, and mother, Ruth, in 2001 on Long Island. Photo Credit: Getty Images File

Efforts to find any cash that Bernard Madoff or his family members might have control of won't be stopped by the death of Mark Madoff, the Ponzi schemer's son, according to an attorney from Garden City who represents about 50 of Madoff's victims.

There's no way to know what information Mark Madoff may have given the government about his father's fraud, said Jerry Reisman, an attorney with Reisman, Peirez and Reisman, but that shouldn't matter to those seeking to recover lost investments.

A paper trail of money transactions will be "the road map to the Madoff money," he said. "The government will be able to use that information to get to others."

"Mark Madoff's complicity, if any, will be determined by documentary evidence," Reisman said. "Paper transactions, testimony from others, checkbooks, records of transactions and money transfers."

Irving Picard, the court-appointed trustee seeking to recoup money from Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, is suing hundreds of individuals, banks and funds around the world that he asserts benefited improperly from the epic fraud.

The latest complaints are among a growing number, expected to total into the hundreds, that Picard needs to file in order to get back money he insists represents cash stolen from thousands of investors who collectively lost around $20 billion in the scheme.

Picard had until midnight Saturday, the two-year anniversary of the date Bernard Madoff's company went under in December 2008.

Picard has previously filed lawsuits against Ruth Madoff, her two sons, Andrew and Mark, as well as Bernard Madoff's brother Peter and several others seeking to recoup about $200 million. Those cases are pending.

Civil lawsuits often continue, even if a defendant has died, attorneys said.

According to Picard, some $30 million was allegedly diverted to relatives of Madoff and his wife, Ruth, while about $39 million more was funneled to accounts of former employees and their families.

About $2.6 billion has been recovered, mostly through settlements with funds and individuals. The money will go to victims of the fraud, which was revealed with Madoff's arrest on Dec. 11, 2008.

Mark Madoff was found hanged in his New York City apartment Saturday, police said. Bernard Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

Ron Geffner, a former Securities and Exchange Commission attorney in Manhattan, said that if Andrew Madoff, Madoff's other son, should ever have to answer charges in court in connection with the Ponzi scheme fraud, Mark's suicide would loom large.

"His death, if anything, weakens the defense," Geffner said.

With Sophia Chang

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