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Bernie Madoff Says He's Terminally ill, Asks For Release From Prison

Shivdeep Dhaliwal

Bernard Madoff, the infamous Ponzi schemer, asked to be granted an early release due to his poor health conditions.

What Happened

Madoff, 81 has said that he is dying of terminal kidney disease and asked a judge on Wednesday for an early release from prison. He is currently serving a 150-year sentence for running a Ponzi scheme that let to over $21.2 billion in losses. The fraud involved $65 billion over 20 years and more than 4,800 client accounts.

Madoff was sentenced in 2009 after he had pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest investment fraud in the history of Wall Street. 

He gave a phone interview to the Washington Post on Wednesday and said he is "terminally ill.“

"There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”

Previous Parole Attempt

The Bureau of Prisons already rejected Madoff’s request for an early release in December 2019.

In July 2019, he asked President Trump for a sentence commutation. Trump notably expressed his dislike for Madoff in an interview he gave the New York Times in 2009. The President said at the time, “I met Madoff a number of times at Mar-a-Lago. He loved golf, and I’d also see him at my golf club, which is nearby. One time he said to me, ‘Why don’t you invest with me?’ I said jokingly, "No thanks, I can lose my own money."

Trump even suggested that Madoff’s wife Ruth should be put in jail on the other side of the hallway from him and called Madoff’s late sons guilty.

Why It Matters

If Madoff secures his release on medical grounds, it will come on the heels of the release of the former WorldCom Inc. Chief Executive Bernard Ebbers, who was let out of prison in December 2019 for the same reasons.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Ebbers passed away two months after his release. Raj Rajaratnam, co-founder of Galleon Group LLC,  has been granted an early release after serving nine years in prison.

Madoff’s lawyer Brandon Sample told the Washington Post, “I don’t dispute that his conduct, his offense behavior impacted many, many people’s lives and caused harm. There’s no dispute. But the question now is, with his present situation, what would that hypothetical jury do today faced with the Bernie Madoff who’s in a wheelchair, who’s on his last legs of life?”

Photo Credit: Public domain photo via Wikimedia. 

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