The fallout from Bernard Madoff's greedy actions has been felt far and wide, and now we hear news of yet another tragedy linked to the man who destroyed the lives of so many. Jeremy Friehling, a 23-year-old medical student and son of Madoff's long-time accountant, David Friehling, has committed suicide.
According to police at Ohio State, where he was a student, he was found Thursday in his apartment, dead from what appears to have been a self-inflicted gunshot wound. According to some reports, he left comments on Facebook that caused concerned friends to ask police to check on him. When they did, they found his body.
Jeremy reportedly left a suicide note, but its contents have not been revealed. The coroner was quick to say there was no indication that his suicide had anything to do with the Madoff scandal, but I don't see how it could not, at least in part.
Sure there may have been more issues and problems in addition to his father facing prison and being linked to one of the world's most hated men, but I think it's almost impossible to believe that those factors didn't at least contribute to this young man choosing to take his own life. Surely he knew that would be the assumption.
David Friehling pleaded guilty to securities fraud in 2009 for his role in Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme. He had worked as Madoff's accountant for almost 20 years, and prosecutors believed he "turned a blind eye to Madoff's cooked books." Though he said he did fail to do an adequate job monitoring the books, he has denied knowing that Madoff was bilking investors out of money. Whether he did or not is, of course, debatable, but to even have your own father suspected of such horrific actions has got to weigh on you.
At the time he was charged, David Friehling told the judge, "In what was the biggest mistake of my life, I put my trust with Bernard Madoff." I can't help but thinking he's feeling that sentiment more strongly than ever in light of this tragic news about his son.
If you recall, it was just a little over a year ago that Madoff's own son, Mark Madoff, committed suicide, hanging himself on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest. At the time we mourned the "legacy of shame" that Madoff had left his family, and now we see how much broader that heartbreaking legacy may have been.
Do you think his father's role in the Madoff scandal likely contributed to Jeremy Friehling's suicide?
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