Who is J.Ezra Merkin?

As the alleged Madoff Ponzi scheme has errupted across the financial world, one other name has been receiving almost as much press as Madoff. J. Ezra Merkin. Outside the circles he traveled, both in New York and as Chairman of auto financing giant GMAC, many did not even know his name. That has all changed. And at this point, it seems a strong likelihood, the legal system will make the final judgement on where Merkin fits in, what he knew and when he may have known.

Today’s New York Daily News has this in-depth profile on Merkin, the man.

Famed for piety, Jacob Merkin put faith and funds in Bernie Madoff

Jacob Ezra Merkin was once revered as a wizard of Wall Street, an angel of charity and a lion of Judaic studies.

Now he has earned infamy as a destroyer of wealth, a menace to philanthropy, a pariah in some synagogues and a target of a probe by the state attorney general’s office.

A single unforgivable deed capsized his fortune, reputation and social standing overnight: He embraced a false prophet of profit named Bernard Madoff.