Bernie Madoff 2021 . Financier Behind Notorious Ponzi Scheme. Dies At 82
Bernie Madoff Bernie Madoff , Financier Notorious At Scheme, 82 Dies Behind Ponzi
Wed, 14 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
Updated April 14, 2021 at 1:41 PM ET Bernie Madoff, the financier who orchestrated what is thought to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history, has died
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, N.C., the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed, and had been serving out a 150-year sentence.
As a money manager, Madoff defrauded thousands of investors out of tens of billions of dollars over the course of nearly two decades. His scheme wiped out the savings of individuals, charities, municipal governments and college endowment funds, and he was so hated at the time of his 2009 trial that he wore a bulletproof vest to and from the courthouse.
But long before his name became synonymous with deceit, it had been held in high regard on Wall Street.
His brokerage, Bernard L.
Madoff Investment Securities LLC, consistently boasted impressive returns, and his clients — many within the Jewish community — included celebrities and wealthy philanthropists as well as ordinary people.
Before the scheme came to light, Madoff’s credibility was bolstered by his lavish lifestyle, which featured a yacht and properties in Palm Beach, the Hamptons and the south of France.
The former NASDAQ chairman portrayed himself not just as a great investor, but a morally upstanding one.
Financial reporter Diana Henriques, who wrote a book about the case, described Madoff’s scheme in a 2011 Fresh Air interview as exploiting not investors’ greed, but their fear.
“Through many of the years of Madoff’s fraud, investors could have made a lot more money even in some of the very prominent mutual funds,” she said.
“But they were willing to give up those greater returns in exchange for the consistency of Madoff’s returns.
He made them feel safe.
They all thought they were taking a conservative step.”
In fact, Madoff was running what prosecutors later described as the largest Ponzi scheme in history, paying off old investors with money from new ones.
Ron Stein, who runs a non-profit group representing Madoff victims, said Madoff was essentially using their money as a “checking account,” investing none of it or in some cases very small amounts.
Madoff admitted to the scheme in 2009.
In a statement, he said he began falsifying accounts in the early 1990s because he felt compelled to satisfy his clients’ expectations.
“When I began the Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from the scheme,” he said.
“However, this proved difficult, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by I realized that my arrest and this day would inevitably come.”
Madoff said he deposited clients’ funds in a Chase Manhattan bank account rather than investing it, and withdrew from that account to pay back those who asked for redemptions.
Over the years, he said, he employed several strategies to cover this up, including filing false financial statements with the Securities and Exchange Commission and wiring money between the U.S.
and United Kingdom to create the appearance of securities transactions.
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.
Those included securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, international money laundering and perjury.
He was ordered to forfeit assets worth more than $170 billion, the amount prosecutors said “flowed into the principal account to perpetrate the Ponzi scheme.”
In 2009, U.S.
District Judge Denny Chin sentenced Madoff to 150 years in prison, a verdict he said sent a message his crimes were “extraordinarily evil, and that this kind of manipulation of the system is not just a bloodless crime that takes place on paper, but one instead that takes a staggering toll.”
Hundreds of victims wrote to the court before Madoff’s sentencing to describe the devastating impact of their loss of savings, Chin said, and two investors died by suicide after the scheme was revealed.
As NPR reported during the trial, Madoff showed no emotion during the testimony of nine victims, but did offer an apology to his family and those impacted and said he would “live with this pain, this torment, for the rest of my life.”
Likewise, the impact on many of his victims has been long-lasting and life-altering.
Miriam Siegman, who said she lost her entire pension and savings, was one of the individuals who testified in court.
“He gets sent off and we get a lifetime sentence.
That is a horrible sentence,” she told NPR at the time.
“It’s a sentence of want, of humiliation and the inability to care for, in my case, to care for myself in my older age.”
Speaking to NPR in 2018, one victim said he had been preparing to retire when he learned that his nest egg and that of his elderly mother were gone, which forced him to return to work for 10 more years.
Another talked about severely cutting back on spending and contemplating suicide, citing his fear of being “old and poor in America.”
The impact was also felt on Madoff’s family.
Some of his relatives worked at his firm, and claimed not to have known about the fraud in the face of public scrutiny. His son Mark, who had long insisted he played no role in the scheme, died by suicide in 2010.
His wife, once a popular society figure, became reclusive, and said in a statement after his sentencing that “the man who committed this horrible fraud is not the man whom I have known for all these years.”
“Bernie, up until his death, lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes,” Madoff’s attorney, Brandon Sample, said in a statement on Wednesday.
“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 filed a motion for compassionate release last February, saying Madoff was suffering from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions, with a life expectancy of less than 18 months.
Chin, now a U.S.
circuit judge, denied the request.
Jim Zarroli contributed to this report.
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Bernie Madoff Bernie Madoff
Wed, 14 Apr 2021 07:00:00 -0700
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
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
Madoff, Ponzi Scheme