I’m guessing the latter. At the least, the man faced civil suits that would ruin him financially. And the DailyBeast (thanks, Horsejock) suggests he may have been the criminal mastermind behind the whole Madoff scam.
Picower benefited the most from Madoff’s scam, according to the bankruptcy lawyers who alleged he’d taken out $7 billion more than he’d originally put in—a felony, for which, investigators say, he would have likely faced criminal charges. “He made 30 times what Madoff did from the scam and about a third of the missing money went to Picower,” one investigator said, suggesting he may have been the mastermind behind the con or Madoff’s equal “partner in crime.” Investigators say Madoff documents prove that Picower frequently offered instructions as to how he could create false trades. Police said they did not know the cause of death and are awaiting the results of a full autopsy and toxicology tests.