Ponzi Scheme Mastermind Bernie Madoff Dies in Prison

April 14, 2021 by TWN Staff
In this March 10, 2009, file photo, former financier Bernie Madoff leaves federal court in Manhattan, in New York. Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died in prison, a person familiar with the matter tells The Associated Press. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

Bernie Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, died in a federal prison early Wednesday. He was 82.

Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., apparently from natural causes.

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. 

Madoff admitted swindling thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over decades.

A court-appointed trustee has recovered more than $13 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.

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 film director Steven Spielberg, talk show host Larry King, actor Kevin Bacon and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax.

But in 2008, Madoff’s investment advisory business was exposed as a multibillion-dollar 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.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”

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