Published on: Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Bernie Madoff, the financier who orchestrated what is thought to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died. He was 82. He died Wednesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed, and had been serving out a 150-year sentence (article available here).

The scheme collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis, when it could no longer attract new investors and too many people wanted their money at once. Madoff confessed to his wife and sons, and was arrested by the FBI that December. He pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts in 2009, at the age of 71, and sentenced to to 150 years in prison.  His son Mark, who had long insisted he played no role in the scheme, died by suicide in 2010. Madoff's brother Peter also served a 10-year prison sentence for his involvement in the scheme.

Madoff filed a motion for compassionate release last February because he was suffering from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions, with a life expectancy of less than 18 months.  But the US Attorney's office for the southern district of New York said Madoff's crime was "unprecedented in scope and magnitude" and is "sufficient reason" to deny Madoff's request. The sentencing judge, now a Second Circuit judge, denied the request. "When I sentenced Mr. Madoff in 2009, it was fully my intent that he live out the rest of his life in prison," the judge wrote in his order last June.

"Bernie, up until his death, lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes," Madoff's attorney said in a statement on Wednesday.