Ponzi schemer Madoff dies in US prison aged 82
Bernard Madoff, who was convicted for running the largest known Ponzi scheme in history, died yesterday in United States federal prison where he was serving a 150-year sentence, the Bureau of Prisons said. He was 82.
Madoff had been suffering from chronic kidney failure and several other medical ailments.
He had been held at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, after being sentenced in June 2009 to a 150-year term for engineering a fraud estimated as high as US$64.8 billion.
Madoff’s thousands of victims, large and small, included individuals, charities, pension funds and hedge funds.
Among those he betrayed were 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 US$15.2 million, said in 2009.
Some victims lost everything. Many came from the Jewish community, where Madoff had been a major philanthropist.
Madoff’s crimes were revealed to authorities in 2008 by his two sons.
The fraud exposed holes at the US Securities and Exchange Commission, which through incompetence or neglect botched a half-dozen examinations.
“There were several times that I met with the SEC and thought, ‘They got me,’” Madoff told lawyers in a prison interview, according to ABC News.
Madoff had been the largest market-maker on the Nasdaq, once serving as its non-executive chairman.