The Cutline

Fiancée of Madoff son will profit from book about family

The Cutline

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The Madoffs in happier times. (Little, Brown)

Bernie Madoff's son will indirectly profit, through his fiancée, from a splashy new tell-all book about the Madoff family--something that might be tough to swallow for thousands of the convicted Ponzi schemer's victims.

The book, "Truth and Consequences: Life Inside the Madoff Family," written by Laurie Sandell and published today by Little Brown, is based largely on interviews with Andrew and Ruth Madoff, who are Bernie's son and wife, as well as with Catherine Hooper, Andrew's fiancee.

Andrew and Ruth Madoff won't directly benefit from the book, according to "60 Minutes," which interviewed both of them for a report that aired Sunday night. But Hooper, who helped spearhead the project and was originally listed as a co-author, will.

"The writer is the primary beneficiary, but I am getting compensated for the work that I did in helping arrange the book," Hooper, the founder of Black Umbrella, an emergency preparedness firm, told Yahoo News.

It's not known how much she'll take in. Hooper referred further questions to Little, Brown, which declined to comment. "As a matter of protocol we never comment on the financial arrangements regarding our books," a spokeswoman for Little, Brown told Yahoo News. Sandell did not respond to a message sent to her Twitter account.

The professional lives of Hooper and Andrew Madoff, 45, have overlapped lately. The Wall Street Journal reported in December that he had taken the title of head of operations at Black Umbrella.

Andrew and his brother Mark, who committed suicide last year, worked for an arm of their father's company that made legitimate trades, and was housed on a different floor from Bernie Madoff's fraudulent operation. Both brothers, and Ruth, have said they knew nothing of Bernie's crimes until he confessed to his family in December 2008.

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(Little Brown)

But the court-appointed trustee for victims has formally demanded almost $200 million from the Madoff clan--Andrew and Mark, as well as Madoff's brother Peter Madoff and niece Shana Madoff--charging that they knew or should have known about the enormous fraud, and that they took "huge sums of money" out of Bernie's phony business to fund personal and professional ventures.

The trustee for the Madoff victims, Irving Picard, declined, through a spokeswoman, to comment on whether he plans to try to claim for the victims any money from the book's proceeds. But Jeff Dion, the director of the National Crime Victims Bar Association, told Yahoo News it "would certainly be something that the trustee could argue."

But individual victims are already speaking out. "I personally do not feel that any profits from the new book should in any way go to Ms. Hooper, who is future Madoff family, or should any other member of the Madoff family benefit from this crime," Lynn Sustak, one victim, told ABC News.

It's unusual for a person who acts as a source and facilitator for a book project to admit to being paid, industry experts said. "I can't think of another example of it off the top of my head," Jason Boog, the editor of Mediabistro's GalleyCat.com, wrote in an email to Yahoo News.

The book has been the subject of an elaborate release strategy by Little Brown. In July, the publisher added "Untitled," by Anonymous, to its fall lineup, telling booksellers to brace themselves for a 320-page, nonfiction hardcover book that would tell "the inside story of life with one of the most controversial figures of our time" and would launch with a "massive media rollout" and "60 Minutes" segment. That month, the New York Times reported that an internal company database listed Hooper and Sandell as co-authors, leading the paper to speculate that the book would be about Madoff.

Sandell--who in 2009 published a memoir about her own father's smaller-scale deceptions--wrote in the preface that "Truth and Consequences" was conceived after Hooper contacted her that year.

When the book was officially announced, Sandell was the lone author. "It seems like the publisher wants us to focus on her now," Boog added. "No matter why all this happened, it is very unusual to create such an elaborate smoke screen around a book."

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