NEW YORK — For two years, the two sons of jailed financier Bernard Madoff portrayed themselves as honest whistleblowers of their father's historic fraud. A court-appointed trustee depicted them as bungling money managers who did nothing to protect investors.
The suicide of Mark Madoff — Bernard Madoff's eldest son — leaves unanswered questions for investors seeking payback for the billions of dollars his father siphoned — and for criminal investigators who continued to pursue charging Madoff's family for knowing participation in the fraud.
Mark Madoff's death followed the filing in recent weeks of dozens of lawsuits by trustee Irving Picard as he pursued billions of dollars in damages against those who profited from the fraud.
Last Wednesday, Picard included the brothers as defendants in an $80 million lawsuit he brought against the London-based international arm of Madoff's business, saying the overseas operation was used to siphon off money from the fraud for the Madoff family.
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U.S. envoy's illness may hinder Afghan policy
WASHINGTON — Veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke, who is a special envoy on the Afghanistan war, was in critical condition after surgery to fix a tear in the large artery that moves blood from the heart.
President Obama called Holbrooke "a towering figure in American foreign policy" who has been a critical player in developing the administration's policy on Afghanistan.
"Richard is fighting through. Anyone who knows him, and I was with him Friday morning before this happened, knows how tough and resilient he is and we're all praying that that quality sees him through now," Obama adviser David Axelrod told CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
Holbrooke's prolonged absence could affect the administration's ability to put in place — and also sell to a skeptical Congress — its push for Afghan forces to assume a greater role in the fighting, allowing U.S. troops to come home. Holbrooke has made many visits to the region and developed relationships with leaders in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Palin: Americans should not forget Haiti
PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Sarah Palin urged Americans on Sunday not to forget Haiti as she wrapped up a weekend visit to an aid group's sites in this country vexed by a cholera epidemic, earthquake reconstruction and political crisis.
Accompanied by her husband, Todd; daughter Bristol, a Fox News crew and the Rev. Franklin Graham, who runs the aid group that hosted her, the former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate arrived in Haiti during a respite from the riots and violence that have followed the Caribbean nation's dysfunctional Nov. 28 election.
"I do urge Americans not to forget Haiti," she said at a Sunday afternoon news conference.
Noting that severe problems afflicted Haiti even before last January's devastating quake, she said her fellow citizens should "get out of your comfort zone and volunteer to help."
Palin's trip was largely closed to the press and she declined to take questions at the news conference.
Ruling: O.J. Simpson can keep Fla. tax break
MIAMI — O.J. Simpson may not be coming back to South Florida for a good long while, but he's still entitled to a homestead exemption on his Kendall home.
So ruled the Miami-Dade County property appraiser's office after a neighbor complained that the convicted armed robber and long-ago football and TV star's current extended residency at a Nevada prison should preclude him from receiving the property-tax break usually afforded to Florida homeowners.
Florida Department of Revenue rules, which govern the homestead exemption, require that the property be the homeowner's primary residence. But the rules also clearly state that a felony conviction by itself doesn't disqualify anyone.
Nor does a temporary absence —"regardless of the reason for such," the rulebook says, "providing an abiding intention to return is always present."
So there is no legal basis to rescind Simpson's exemption, said Lazaro Solis, deputy property appraiser.