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Philanthropist tied to Madoff found dead in pool

NEW YORK (JTA) — Jeffry Picower, a billionaire philanthropist who supported many Jewish causes and was facing increased scrutiny over his business dealings with Bernard Madoff, was found dead Sunday in a swimming pool at his mansion in Palm Beach, Fla.

In the first weeks after news of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme broke last year, Picower was portrayed as one of the biggest victims and was forced to close his foundation. But in recent months, questions have arisen over his role in recruiting investors for Madoff and whether he knew or had suscpicions about Madoff’s activities.

According to the most recent tax filings before the Picower Foundation was closed, it gave away nearly $2.5 million to Jewish and Jewish-related charities in 2007.

Authorities said that Picower’s wife discovered his body and, with help from a housekeeper, pulled it from the water. Palm Beach police are investigating the death as a drowning, but have not ruled out other possibilities regarding the cause of death.

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