Bernie Madoff, the evil genius who ran the world’s largest Ponzi scheme has died in prison at the ripe old age of 82. Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. The cause of death has been stated as old age and natural causes.
Madoff’s lawyers filed court papers last year to get him out of prison on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, stating that he suffered from end-stage renal disease and several other medical conditions. However, the request was denied.
Bernie 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 his arrest, fake account statements were telling clients they had holdings worth $60 billion. He was sentenced in June 2009 to a 150-year term for engineering this fraud.
Madoff’s victims included individuals, charities, pension funds and hedge funds. He had also he betrayed several high profile celebrities, including the actors Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick and John Malkovich; baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax; and a charity associated with director Steven Spielberg.
Owners of the New York Mets, longtime Madoff clients, struggled for years to field a good baseball team because of losses they suffered.
“We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands,” Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, whose foundation lost $15.2 million, said in 2009.
Several victims lost everything. Many came from the Jewish community, where Madoff had been a major philanthropist.
Bernie Madoff ran a typical Ponzi scheme. Money from newer investors were used to pay off the earlier investors.
Madoff said his fraud began in the early 1990s, but prosecutors and many victims believe it started earlier.
Investors were entranced by the steady, double-digit annual gains that Madoff seemed to generate, and which others found impossible to explain or duplicate.
The money helped Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth, enjoy luxuries such as a Manhattan penthouse, a French villa and expensive cars and yachts, with a combined net worth of about $825 million.
The Bernie Madoff Conviction
Madoff’s crimes were revealed to authorities in 2008 by his two sons, who were not part of the scheme.
No one from Madoff’s immediate family was in the Manhattan courtroom when U.S. District Judge Denny Chin sentenced him.
And no family, friends or supporters submitted letters attesting to his good character or deeds in support of leniency.
“I believed when I started this problem, this crime, that it would be something I would be able to work my way out of, but that became impossible,” Madoff told the court. “As hard as I tried, the deeper I dug myself into a hole.”
Madoff also addressed victims in attendance, saying, “I am sorry. I know that doesn’t help you.”
The fraud exposed holes at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which through incompetence or neglect botched a half-dozen examinations.