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Mark Madoff was popular at Roslyn HS

The guys at Roslyn High School wanted to be like Mark Madoff. The girls wanted to date him.

That's how friends remembered the older son of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff from his days at Roslyn.

Many of those same friends said the Mark Madoff they heard about in the news this past weekend - the one who hanged himself from a pipe with a dog leash in his Manhattan apartment as his 2-year-old son slept in the next room - couldn't have been the Mark they knew. But he was.

"I remember him as our class' golden boy - very handsome, very sweet, very popular. Just always a nice kid," said Beth Esbin, who went to Roslyn with Mark Madoff.

Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner, said the death was ruled a suicide Sunday after an autopsy.

By late afternoon Sunday, she said, Madoff's body had not been claimed.

Andrew Schwaeber, who had been friends with Madoff since nursery school, said simply: "He was one of the kindest, nicest men I ever knew."

They'd kept in touch over the years, Schwaeber said Sunday, meeting with old Roslyn friends at a bar in Manhattan or talking over the phone. He trusted Madoff's instincts enough to ask him for career advice when Schwaeber worked on Wall Street.

Schwaeber said that he and others tried to reach out to Madoff after his father's arrest two years ago. While Madoff was acutely sensitive to the needs of his close friends, many saw him grow distant at a time in his life when he could have leaned on them.

But comforting him was "difficult," Schwaeber said, "because he made it" that way.

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