What did Picower take to the grave with him?

By Eric Roby - bio | email
Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - We know what killed Palm Beach billionaire Jeffry Picower. What's up in the air is how much the investor knew about the open Bernie Madoff scandal and if victims will be able to cash in on his estate.

Jeffery Picower was found at the bottom of his pool at his $30 million mansion this past weekend. The medical examiner now says he died of a massive heart attack.

His wife called 9-1-1.
Dispatcher: "Ma'am what's going on?"
Barbara: "He must've collapsed. He's at the bottom of the pool."

Despite his death a federal lawsuit going forward, prosecutors say, Picower knew Madoff for 20 years and made $7 billion in profits off the Ponzi scheme. "It's important that the victims know it doesn't mean the lawsuit is over. The lawsuit will continue, and the trustee still has the ability to collect those assets if the assets are still there," said attorney Ryon McCabe.

We spoke to a Madoff victim, Larry Leif. He moved away from our area, but we were able to reach him by phone. He's not hopeful victims will see a dime of the Picower estate. "There is one thing I'm sure of: He doesn't have $7 billion if he were to lose that lawsuit. Even though, the numbers were big going out any numbers coming back would be small."

Lawyers agree Picower's sudden death could hurt future suits. Any insider information the 67-year-old may have had is now gone.

Picower's publicist says Picower claimed he knew nothing about Madoff's Ponzi scheme, but did not want to go through a lengthy legal battle. Because of that, a settlement with the Madoff trustee was in the works.