Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Son of Madoff's accountant dead

Suicide claims 23 year old

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The son of Bernard Madoff's longtime accountant, who himself pleaded guilty to securities fraud in the scandal centred on the disgraced financier, has committed suicide in central Ohio, authorities said.

Jeremy Friehling, 23, was found dead at his apartment of a self-inflicted gunshot wound Thursday in Columbus, where he was a second-year student at Ohio State's medical school, police there said.

There was no indication the Madoff investment scandal had anything to do with the suicide, Franklin County Coroner Jan Gorniak said. She said Friehling left a note that just said he was sorry.

Police detective Jay Fulton confirmed Sunday that Friehling left a note but would not give details about its contents.

The Friehling family declined to comment and "asks that their privacy be respected at this difficult time," Andrew Lankler, an attorney for Friehling's father, said Sunday.

Bernard Madoff was arrested in 2008 and later admitted his investment business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme. He was sentenced to 150 years in prison. Madoff's son, Mark Madoff, committed suicide in December 2010, hanging himself in his New York City apartment.

Friehling's father, David, of New City, N.Y., pleaded guilty in 2009 to securities fraud charges. Madoff's accountant for nearly two decades, he quickly came under scrutiny after the financier's spectacular scam came to light. Federal prosecutors said he turned a blind eye to Madoff's cooked books.

David Friehling said he failed to do his job to verify Madoff's financial records but insisted he didn't know Madoff was ripping off investors. He noted he had put his own family's savings, including college funds for his three children, into Madoff's investment business.

"In what was the biggest mistake of my life, I put my trust with Bernard Madoff," Friehling told a judge.

Friehling has yet to be sentenced, as he is continuing to work with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty to charges that carry a potential prison term of up to 114 years in prison, though substantial co-operation can result in significant leniency. He also agreed to forfeit $3.1 million, which represents what he was paid by Madoff for his accounting and tax services, along with what his family withdrew from their Madoff accounts.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 19, 2012 $sourceSection0

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