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Why Bernie Madoff confessed so quickly

On Sunday's "60 Minutes," Ruth Madoff will talk to Morley Safer about her husband, Bernie, and learning about the Ponzi scheme that landed him in prison for life. In excerpts released ahead of the broadcast, Ruth Madoff talked about his confession and said the couple had attempted to commit suicide.

Only a few months after his December 2008 arrest, Bernie Madoff took a plea deal.

Madoff's former attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, stopped by "The Early Show" and explained what motivated his client to make a deal so quickly.

"His wife and his family. There's a good possibility that he could have stayed out for a much longer period of time under bail conditions and then pleaded, because I think, at the time that he confessed to his sons, he knew that he was going to die in prison. So there's a possibility that he could have stayed out," Sorkin told Rebecca Jarvis and Chris Wragge. "However, the pressure on his wife, the pressure on his family was so intense, the anti-Semitic threats that were vicious, the death threats, that to relieve the pressure on his family and particularly his wife, he chose to plead. And the moment he pleaded and was remanded to prison, the satellite dishes disappeared, the helicopters disappeared, the reporters disappeared."

When asked if he was encouraged to make a deal, Sorkin said, "That was his decision."

"As far as the suicide [attempt] that we heard from Ruth, I know there were some people that think there may be some truth to it, maybe it's not 100 percent true. Did you know that Bernie, or think that Bernie was suicidal at the time?" Wragge asked.

"I was aware that he was in a pretty bad state. I'm not qualified to say when one is suicidal or not. But I knew he was in terrible, terrible shape," Sorkin said.

Asked if it didn't surprise him when these revelations came out, Sorkin said, "Well, I knew about the attempt before."

"We talk about Bernie being concerned for his family and taking the plea, as Rebecca mentioned. Concern for Ruth and the kids. Did he ever demonstrate or display any sympathy for the thousands of people whose lives he ruined?" Wragge asked.

"Oh, yes. Not that he would ever be believed, but he certainly did. He certainly did in conversations with me, which I'm not going to go into. He had enormous remorse. He felt that he could get out of it. He never could get out of it. But continued to spiral and you know the rest," Sorkin said.

"60 Minutes" airs this Sunday at 7 p.m. ET/PT. Madoff's son Andrew also speaks to Morley Safer in his first interview on the same broadcast.