Bernie Madoff 2021 Ponzi schemer dies in prison at 82
Bernie Madoff Bernie Madoff dies at schemer prison in Ponzi 82
Wed, 14 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
NEW YORK (AP) — Bernard Madoff, the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him
NEW YORK (AP) — Bernard Madoff, the infamous architect of an epic securities swindle that burned thousands of investors, outfoxed regulators and earned him a 150-year prison term, died behind bars early Wednesday.
He was 82.
Madoff’s death at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, was confirmed by his lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons.
Last year, Madoff’s lawyers unsuccessfully asked a court to release him from prison during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he suffered from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions.
His death was due to natural causes, a person familiar with the matter told The Associated Press.
The person was not authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity.
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 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 Ponzi scheme that wiped out people’s fortunes and ruined charities.
He became so hated he wore a bulletproof vest to court.
The fraud was believed to be the largest in Wall Street’s history.
Over the years, court-appointed trustees laboring to unwind the scheme have recovered more than $14 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion investors put into Madoff’s business.
At the time of Madoff’s arrest, fake account statements were telling clients they had holdings worth $60 billion.
Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to securities fraud and other charges, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”
After several months living under house arrest at his $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment, he was led off to jail in handcuffs to scattered applause from angry investors in the courtroom.
“He stole from the rich.
He stole from the poor.
He stole from the in between.
He had no values,” former investor Tom Fitzmaurice told the judge at the sentencing.
“He cheated his victims out of their money so he and his wife …
could live a life of luxury beyond belief.”
Madoff’s attorney in recent years, Brandon Sample, said in a statement that the financier had “lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes” up until his death.
“Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was — he was also a father and a husband.
He was soft spoken and an intellectual.
Bernie was by no means perfect.
But no man is,” Sample said.
District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to the maximum possible term.
“Here, the message must be sent that Mr.
Madoff’s crimes were extraordinarily evil and that this kind of irresponsible manipulation of the system is not merely a bloodless financial crime that takes place just on paper, but it is instead …
one that takes a staggering human toll,” Chin said.
A judge issued a forfeiture order stripping Madoff of all his personal property, including real estate, investments, and $80 million in assets his wife, Ruth, had claimed were hers.
The order left her with $2.5 million.
The scandal also exacted a personal toll on the family: One of his sons, Mark, killed himself on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest in 2010.
Madoff’s brother, Peter, who helped run the business, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2012, despite claims he was in the dark about his brother’s misdeeds.
Madoff’s other son, Andrew, died from cancer at age 48.
Ruth is still living.
Jerry Reisman, an attorney for about three dozen Madoff victims, said he’d spoken to several after Madoff’s death.
“Some of them are saying they’re enjoying this day,” he said.
“No one sees this as a great loss.
No one is going to mourn Bernie Madoff.
They are happy they have survived him.”
Madoff was born in 1938 in a lower-middle-class Jewish neighborhood in Queens.
In the financial world, the story of his rise to prominence — how he left for Wall Street with Peter in 1960 with a few thousand dollars saved from working as a lifeguard and installing sprinklers — became legend.
“They were two struggling kids from Queens.
They worked hard,” said Thomas Morling, who worked closely with the Madoff brothers in the mid-1980s setting up and running computers that made their firm a trusted leader in off-floor trading.
“When Peter or Bernie said something that they were going to do, their word was their bond,” Morling said in a 2008 interview.
In the 1980s, Bernard L.
Madoff Investment Securities occupied three floors of a midtown Manhattan high-rise.
There, with his brother and later two sons, he ran a legitimate business as middlemen between the buyers and sellers of stock.
Madoff raised his profile by using the expertise to help launch Nasdaq, the first electronic stock exchange, and became so respected that he advised the Securities and Exchange Commission on the system.
But what the SEC never found out was that, behind the scenes, in a separate office kept under lock and key, Madoff was secretly spinning a web of phantom wealth by using cash from new investors to pay returns to old ones.
An old IBM computer cranked out monthly statements showing steady double-digit returns, even during market downturns.
As of late 2008, the statements claimed investor accounts totaled $65 billion.
The ugly truth: No securities were ever bought or sold.
Madoff’s chief financial officer, Frank DiPascali, said in a guilty plea in 2009 that the statements detailing trades were “all fake.”
His clients, many Jews like Madoff and Jewish charities, said they didn’t know.
Among them was Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, who recalled meeting Madoff years earlier at a dinner where they talked about history, education and Jewish philosophy — not money.
Madoff “made a very good impression,” Wiesel said during a 2009 panel discussion on the scandal.
Wiesel admitted that he bought into “a myth that he created around him that everything was so special, so unique, that it had to be secret.”
Like many of his clients, Madoff and his wife enjoyed a lavish lifestyle.
They had the Manhattan apartment, an $11 million estate in Palm Beach, Florida and a $4 million home on the tip of Long Island.
There was yet another home in the south of France, private jets and a yacht.
It all came crashing down in the winter of 2008 with a dramatic confession.
In a meeting with his sons, he confided his business was “all just one big lie.”
After the meeting, a lawyer for the family contacted regulators, who alerted the federal prosecutors and the FBI.
Madoff was in a bathrobe when two FBI agents arrived at his door unannounced on a December morning.
He invited them in, then confessed after being asked “if there’s an innocent explanation,” a criminal complaint said.
Madoff responded: “There is no innocent explanation.”
Madoff insisted he acted alone — something the FBI never believed.
A trustee was appointed to recover funds — sometimes by suing hedge funds and other large investors who came out ahead.
The effort is still ongoing, and to date has returned around 70% of lost funds to investors.
More than 15,400 claims against Madoff were filed.
At Madoff’s sentencing in 2009, wrathful former clients stood to demand the maximum punishment.
Madoff himself spoke in a monotone for about 10 minutes.
At various times, he referred to his monumental fraud as a “problem,” “an error of judgment” and “a tragic mistake.”
He claimed he and his wife were tormented, saying she “cries herself to sleep every night, knowing all the pain and suffering I have caused.”
“That’s something I live with, as well,” he said.
Afterward, Ruth Madoff — often a target of victims’ scorn since her husband’s arrest — said she, too, had been misled by her high school sweetheart.
“I am embarrassed and ashamed,” she said.
“Like everyone else, I feel betrayed and confused.
The man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.”
About a dozen Madoff employees and associates were charged.
Five went on trial in 2013.
DiPascali was the prosecution’s star witness.
He recounted how just before the scheme was exposed, Madoff called him into his office.
“He’d been staring out the window the all day,” DiPascali testified.
“He turned to me and he said, crying, ‘I’m at the end of my rope.
… Don’t you get it? The whole goddamn thing is a fraud.’”
In the end, that fraud brought fresh meaning to “Ponzi scheme,” named after Charles Ponzi, who was convicted of mail fraud after bilking thousands of people out of a mere $10 million between 1919 and 1920.
“Charles Ponzi is now a footnote,” said Anthony Sabino, a defense lawyer specializing in white collar criminal defense.
“They’re now Madoff schemes.”
Bernie Madoff Bernie Madoff
Wed, 14 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
He died 12 years into a 150-year prison sentence
Madoff earned global notoriety by defrauding thousands of investors, to the tune of nearly $65 billion, using a
The once-celebrated figure on Wall Street was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Bernie Madoff, the disgraced former financier who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died, sources confirmed to ABC News.
The 82-year-old died of natural causes while being housed at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, sources said.
Madoff, who had been on dialysis and in a wheel chair, died a “broken man,” his attorney told ABC News on Wednesday.
“His health just continued to deteriorate over the past several months,” Madoff’s attorney Brandon Sample told ABC News.
“He had been in a special care unit, almost like hospice, for some time.”
He died 12 years into a 150-year prison sentence.
Madoff earned global notoriety by defrauding thousands of investors, to the tune of nearly $65 billion, using a Ponzi scheme that unraveled shortly after the Great Recession of 2008.
“It’s the end of a life that represented a remarkable breach of an astounding number of people’s trust,” said Randall Jackson, who was part of the team of federal prosecutors that prosecuted some of Madoff’s enablers and accomplices and who’s now a partner in private practice at Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP.
“During the course of the entirety of the Madoff Securities prosecution we were certainly aware and really in awe of the depth of the deception and the depth of the harm that was orchestrated,” Jackson told ABC News on Wednesday.
“It’s really a sad reflection of what people can do in terms of a breach of trust in the business.”
Madoff’s lavish lifestyle and dramatic downfall were the subject of a 2017 HBO film called “The Wizard of Lies,” based on a book of the same title by New York Times financial journalist Diana Henriques.
Madoff was played by Robert De Niro.
Madoff also was the subject of a 2016 ABC miniseries, “Madoff,” starring Richard Dreyfuss.
Prior to the economic crash of 2008, Madoff was a celebrated figure on Wall Street as the head of the what appeared to be the wildly successful Bernard L.
Madoff Investment Securities firm.
Madoff founded the firm as a penny stock trader in 1960.
Prior to his downfall, Madoff also briefly served as chairman of the NASDAQ.
Madoff married his high school sweetheart, Ruth Madoff, in 1959.
The couple had two sons and owned lavish properties, including a Manhattan penthouse, a Palm Beach waterfront home and a Hamptons beachfront home.
Madoff’s fall from grace was swift: He was arrested in December 2008 after his family contacted investigators when he confessed to his sons that his business empire was a sham.
Bernie Madoff and Ruth Madoff attempted suicide on Christmas Eve 2008.
Ruth Madoff told CBS news in 2011 that she and her husband downed pills after their sons had contacted federal authorities, but ultimately their attempt was unsuccessful and “we woke up the next day.”
His crimes were remembered for upending the lives of thousands, heightening the agony associated with a brutal economic downturn.
Many victims said they lost everything.
One investor, who lost $1.4 billion, died by suicide in December 2008.
In March 2009, Bernie pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies, admitting his conduct “was wrong, indeed criminal,” and in June 2009 he received a maximum sentence of 150 years.
“When I began the Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from this scheme,” Madoff told the judge at his plea hearing.
“However, this proved difficult, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by I realized that my arrest and this day would eventually come.”
Madoff told investors that he developed a unique investment strategy, which he explained to the judge, “to falsely give the appearance to clients that I had achieved the results that I believed they expected.”
The judge, Denny Chin, told the courtroom at the time the sentencing was symbolic for a crime that displayed “extraordinary evil” and “took a staggering human toll.”
In court, Madoff said that when he started the scam, he thought he would be able to “work my way out.” He maintained that he acted alone, adding, “How do you excuse lying to brother and sons? How do you excuse lying and deceiving a wife who stood by you for 50 years and still stands by you? There is no excuse for that, and I don’t ask for forgiveness.”
Finally, he turned to face some of his victims in court.
“I’m sorry,” he said.
When Chin read the sentence, the courtroom erupted in applause.
As Madoff went to prison, tragedy soon overtook his family.
In December 2010, around the two-year anniversary of Madoff’s arrest, his son, Mark Madoff, hanged himself in his New York City apartment, The New York Times reported at the time.
Mark Madoff also was under investigation, though his father maintained that he acted alone in running the Ponzi scheme.
Bernie Madoff’s only other son, Andrew Madoff, died of cancer in 2014.
In the decade since Madoff’s arrest, Justice Department officials have worked to create a fund for his victims and have distributed more than $2.7 billion to nearly 38,000 defrauded investors as of April 2020.
The Madoff Victims Fund has received over 65,000 requests for compensation from investors in 136 countries.
DOJ officials have pledged return over $4 billion to victims via the MVF, which was amalgamated in part from civil and criminal forfeitures sought against Madoff and his co-conspirators.
After serving more than a decade behind bars, in February 2020 Bernie Madoff’s lawyers sought a “compassionate release,” saying he suffered from terminal kidney failure and other chronic conditions.
At the time, he told the Washington Post he wanted to repair his relationship with his grandchildren before he died.
“I’ve served 11 years already,” he said.
“And, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”
His plea was denied.
“The pain experienced by the victims of Mr.
Madoff’s fraud is not diminished by his death, nor is our work on behalf of his victims finished,” Irving Picard, the trustee liquidating Madoff’s firm, said in a statement Wednesday.
“My legal team and I are committed to continuing to identify and recover Mr.
Madoff’s stolen funds and return them to their rightful owners.”
Lisa Baroni, one of the prosecutors who sent Bernie Madoff to prison, recalled Madoff’s sentencing as her “most memorable day in a decade as a prosecutor.”
“I can’t imagine we will see a securities fraud that is as brazen as Madoff’s and that lasted as many decades — we were able to prove that it began in the 1970s and ended with his arrest in 2008,” Baroni added.
She continued: “No one expected Madoff to serve his full 150-year sentence, but it was meant to symbolize his greed and malevolence.”
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available.
Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Even if it feels like it, you are not alone.
– April 14, 2021