A son of disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff called authorities in a panic after receiving a text message he thought was a suicide note from his dad months after his December 2008 fraud scheme arrest, a new book says.
The forthcoming book, "Truth and Consequences," recounts how Andrew Madoff and his brother, Mark Madoff, got the message on their cellphones in March 2009. Bernard Madoff told his sons he loved them and to look after their mother. The book says it was the first communication Andrew Madoff had from his father after his arrest.
Andrew Madoff called police, who checked on his father and found no cause for concern.
The book also has wife and mother Ruth Madoff recounting how she and Bernard Madoff tried to kill themselves weeks after his arrest.
"Truth and Consequences," written by Laurie Sandell, will be published by Little, Brown and Co. on Oct. 31. The Associated Press bought a copy Thursday.
Bernard Madoff, who stole billions of dollars in the largest Ponzi scheme in history and pleaded guilty to fraud charges, recently told an interviewer he has terrible remorse and horrible nightmares over his epic scheme but feels happier in prison than he's felt in 20 years.
Barbara Walters told ABC's "Good Morning America" on Thursday that she interviewed Madoff for two hours at the prison in Butner, N.C., where he's serving a 150-year sentence. No cameras were allowed in the prison.
Walters said Madoff, who's in his 70s, told her he thought about suicide before being sent to prison but since he's been there he no longer thinks about it.
His comments come ahead of his wife's appearance on Sunday's edition of CBS' "60 Minutes," on which she talks about the Christmas Eve 2008 suicide attempt.
"I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening," she says in the interview, according to excerpts released by CBS.
She says the couple took "a bunch of pills" including the insomnia prescription medication Ambien, but they both woke up the next day. She says the decision was "very impulsive" and she's glad they didn't die.
Andrew Madoff also will talk about his experience on CBS.
Little, Brown has been promoting "Truth and Consequences" since the summer, when it alerted booksellers that an untitled book, by Anonymous, would be coming out in the fall and would tell "the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time."
Stores were thus asked to blindly order the book, knowing neither the author nor the title, a sales technique reserved for high-profile releases. Sandell had extensive access to the Madoff family and interviewed Ruth Madoff, Andrew Madoff and his fiancee, Catherine Hooper.
The book shows family ties that were seemingly both a blessing and a burden. It recounts the Madoff relatives' reactions to the news that their world was built upon a lie as well as the aftermath, and the damage it did to their relationships with each other. It features moments like the one when Andrew Madoff remembers his mother shouting at him over his and his brother's refusal to sign onto his father's bail agreement, as well as his sister-in-law's refusal to allow his mother at Mark Madoff's memorial.
"Truth and Consequences" comes out 11 days after Stephanie Madoff Mack's "The End of Normal: A Wife's Anguish, A Widow's New Life." Mack was the wife of Mark Madoff, who killed himself on the second anniversary of his father's arrest.
"I hated Bernie thoroughly and deeply from the instant Mark told me what he had done," Mack wrote.
Mark Madoff hanged himself by a dog leash last year on the anniversary of his father's arrest. Like his parents, he had swallowed a batch of sleeping pills in a failed suicide attempt 14 months earlier, according to his widow's book.
Bernie Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, the morning after his sons notified authorities through an attorney that he had confessed to them that his investment business was a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme and he had cheated thousands of investors.
Madoff ran his scheme for at least two decades, using his investment advisory service to cheat individuals, charities, institutional investors and celebrities, including former CNN talk show host Larry King.
An investigation found Madoff never made any investments, instead using the money from new investors to pay returns to existing clients — and to finance a lavish lifestyle for his family. Losses have been estimated at around $20 billion, making it the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history.
King told the syndicated TV news show "Extra" he and his wife invested $700,000 with Madoff but were lucky enough to get it back: $200,000 from the Madoff estate and $500,000 from the government for taxes they paid on stock they never had.