Bernie Madoff, former financier and Ponzi schemer, dies in prison at 82

Bernie Madoff, the former financier who pleaded guilty in 2009 to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died, according to multiple reports. He was 82.

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An unidentified source familiar with the situation told The Associated Press that Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina. His death appeared to be from natural causes, according to the AP.

Officials with the federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed Madoff’s death Wednesday to USA Today.

Madoff admitted to swindling thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over more than two decades. A court-appointed trustee has recovered more than $13 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that investors put into his business. At the time of his 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 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 multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities and foundations. In June 2009, a judge sentenced Madoff to serve 150 years in prison. The Bureau of Prisons listed his release date as Nov. 14, 2139.

Last year, Madoff’s attorney asked a judge for compassionate release of the then 81-year-old, citing terminal kidney failure and a life expectancy of less than 18 months. Prosecutors noted in a memo opposing his release that Madoff would have only served 8% of his sentence, which they argued was “wholly justified” for his crimes.

U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin denied the request in June 2020, noting that “his criminal conduct went on for decades, and he was caught only because his scheme began to unravel with the financial crisis as he was unable to keep up with the increasing requests for redemptions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.