Bernie Madoff, the controversial financier who masterminded the most well-known Ponzi scam in history, died in federal prison on Wednesday. He was 82 years old at the time.
Madoff, who was serving a 150-year sentence after pleaded guilty to a $65 billion scam, died of natural causes at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., according to the Associated Press.
The thief used his role as chairman of Bernie Madoff Investment Securities, which he created in 1960, to defraud investors of billions of dollars. He admitted to the decades-long con when he pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies in 2009.
Madoff requested medical parole from prison last year, saying he had kidney failure and less than 18 months to live. Since the plea was made public, the majority of his victims spoke out about allowing him to live out his days as a free man.
The appeal was turned down.
“When I sentenced Mr. Madoff in 2009, it was fully my intent that he live out the rest of his life in prison. His lawyers asked then for a sentence of 12 to 15 to 20 years, specifically with the hope that Mr. Madoff would live to see ‘the light of day,’” Last June, Judge Denny Chin issued a decision.
Madoff was convicted in 2008 after confessing to his two sons that he had defrauded his creditors of billions of dollars, depriving many of their life savings. Former New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon, director Steven Spielberg, and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel were among his victims.
The system has harmed unions, pension funds, and other organizations.
Madoff made his fortune by defrauding unsuspecting investors and paying off prospective clients with funds from previous investors, using a classic pyramid scheme. He sent clients forged account statements that showed huge profits.
In fact, he was putting the majority of his investors’ money into his own bank account.
Madoff was long regarded as a Wall Street elder statesman, having established his own company at the age of 22 and risen through the ranks to chair the all-electronic Nasdaq stock exchange and serve on the board of the financial industry’s regulator.
His status allowed him to deflect questions and complaints from competitors while still keeping the Securities and Exchange Commission at bay.During the 1990s and early 2000s, the SEC received five serious allegations about Madoff’s business practices. Harry Markopolos, a rival fund strategist, went so far as to call a 2005 complaint:“The World’s Largest Hedge Fund is a Fraud.”
Madoff’s dramatic collapse came when he confessed to his two sons in 2008 and the pair of brothers turned him in after years of eluding the SEC and other regulators.
During his sentence in June 2009, he said, “I live in a tormented state now aware about all the misery and anguish that I have caused.” “I have left a shameful legacy.”
Madoff’s two sons, Mark and Andrew, died when he was in jail.
On the second anniversary of his father’s conviction, Mark committed suicide in December 2010. Andrew died of cancer in 2014.
More than $13 billion of the total $17.5 billion invested in Madoff’s company has been recovered by a court-appointed trustee. The majority of the funds came from the sale of the Madoff family’s holdings, which included properties in the Hamptons, Manhattan, and France, as well as a 55-foot yacht called Bull.
According to the Justice Department, the Madoff Victim Fund, a federal agency formed to assist people who lost money after the long-running Ponzi scam collapsed, has issued more than 65,000 applications from Madoff victims in 136 countries as of last April.
Fake account documents were circulating at the time of Madoff’s conviction, claiming that clients had $60 billion in assets.
The Department of Justice announced in December that it had begun paying out $488 million to help individuals, teachers, charities, pension funds, and others recoup their costs from the program.