Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison at 82

Bernie Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died in a federal prison, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Associated Press

Apr 14, 2021, 1:32 PM

Updated 1,140 days ago

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Bernard Madoff, the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term, died in a federal prison early Wednesday. He was 82.
Madoff's death at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, was confirmed by his lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons.
Last year, Madoff's lawyers filed court papers to try to get him released from prison in the coronavirus pandemic, saying he had suffered from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions. The request was denied.
FILE - Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff leaves U.S. District Court in Manhattan after a bail hearing in New York, Monday, Jan. 5, 2009. Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, died early Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in a federal prison, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens, File)
His death was due to natural causes, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press. The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.
For decades, Madoff enjoyed an image as a self-made financial guru whose Midas touch defied market fluctuations. A former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market, he attracted a devoted legion of investment clients - from Florida retirees to celebrities such as famed film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.
But his investment advisory business was exposed in 2008 as a Ponzi scheme that wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities and foundations. He became so hated he had to wear a bulletproof vest to court.
FILE - In this March 10, 2009, file photo, former financier Bernie Madoff exits federal court in Manhattan, in New York. The Supreme Court is leaving in place a lower court ruling that allows the trustee recovering money for investors in the Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme to pursue more than $4 billion that went to overseas investors. The high court on Monday, June 1, 2020, declined to take the case. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)
The fraud was believed to be the largest in Wall Street's history.
Over the years, court-appointed trustees laboring to unwind the scheme have recovered more than $14 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that investors put into Madoff’s business. At the time of Madoff’s arrest, fake account statements were telling clients they had holdings worth $60 billion.
Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”
After several months living under house arrest at his $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment, he was led off to jail in handcuffs to scattered applause from angry investors in the courtroom.
“He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values,” former investor Tom Fitzmaurice told the judge at the sentencing. “He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife ... could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”
Madoff's attorney in recent years, Brandon Sample, said in a statement that the financier had “lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes” up until his death.
“Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was-he was also a father and a husband. He was soft spoken and an intellectual. Bernie was by no means perfect. But no man is,” Sample said.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to the maximum possible term.
“Here, the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead ... one that takes a staggering human toll,” Chin said.
A judge issued a forfeiture order in June 2009 stripping Madoff of all his personal property, including real estate, investments, and $80 million in assets his wife, Ruth, had claimed were hers. The order left her with $2.5 million.
FILE - In this April 6, 2009 file photo, Ruth Madoff is escorted by private security as she leaves the Metropolitan Correctional Center after visiting her husband, disgraced financier Bernard Madoff , in New York. Ruth Madoff and her son Andrew will speak publicly for the first time about Bernie Madoff on "60 minutes" airing Sunday, Oct. 30 at 7pm ET/PT. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
The fraud was believed to be the largest in Wall Street's history.
Over the years, court-appointed trustees laboring to unwind the scheme have recovered more than $14 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that investors put into Madoff’s business. At the time of Madoff’s arrest, fake account statements were telling clients they had holdings worth $60 billion.
Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”
After several months living under house arrest at his $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment, he was led off to jail in handcuffs to scattered applause from angry investors in the courtroom.
“He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in between. He had no values,” former investor Tom Fitzmaurice told the judge at the sentencing. “He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife ... could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”
Madoff's attorney in recent years, Brandon Sample, said in a statement that the financier had “lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes” up until his death.
“Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was-he was also a father and a husband. He was soft spoken and an intellectual. Bernie was by no means perfect. But no man is,” Sample said.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to the maximum possible term.
“Here, the message must be sent that Mr. Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead ... one that takes a staggering human toll,” Chin said.
A judge issued a forfeiture order in June 2009 stripping Madoff of all his personal property, including real estate, investments, and $80 million in assets his wife, Ruth, had claimed were hers. The order left her with $2.5 million.


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