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Bernie Madoff says he is dying, seeks early release from prison

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Bernie Madoff, the notorious Ponzi schemer, says that he is dying from kidney disease, and is seeking an early release from prison on compassionate grounds so that he can die at home.

A lawyer for Madoff, in a new legal filing Wednesday, says the fraudster has “less than 18 months to live.”

Madoff, 81, currently is serving a 150-year prison sentence in a North Carolina federal facility for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, to which he pleaded guilty in 2009.

Madoff, while running Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities in New York City, swindled thousands of investors out of billions of dollars in the decades-long scam.

“I’m terminally ill,” Madoff told The Washington Post in an article published Wednesday about his request.

“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,” Madoff told the newspaper, which noted that he has been moved to palliative care in the Federal Medical Center prison in Butner, N.C.

His attorney, Brandon Sample, in a filing Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, said, “Madoff does not dispute the severity of his crimes nor does he seek to minimize the suffering of his victims. Madoff has expressed remorse for his crimes.”

Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

“Now, after over ten years of incarceration and with less than 18 months to live, Madoff humbly asks this Court for a modicum of compassion.”

Sample said in the filing that the U.S. Bureau of Prisons had recognized that Madoff “meets the criteria for a reduction of sentence based on his end-stage renal disease,” but has denied his request for compassionate release.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, which prosecuted Madoff declined to comment on the request, as did the Madoff Trustee, who is responsible for recovering funds for victims of his scheme.

To date, the Madoff Trustee has recovered more than $14.3 billion for Madoff customers, or more than 75 cents for ever dollar of claims filed by victims of the scam.

Peter Chavkin, a lawyer for Madoff’s wife, Ruth Madoff, declined to comment.

The couple’s two sons died in the years after Bernie Madoff leaded guilty to 11 crimes.

One of them, Mark, killed himself in December 2010 on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest.

The other son, Andrew, died in 2014 from cancer.

Sample told CNBC, “Mr. Madoff has terminal kidney disease.”

“The federal prison system acknowledges that he has only months left to live. The compassionate release statute is precisely for situations like Mr. Madoff’s,” Sample said.

“Mr. Madoff has been punished significantly for his crimes. He has been in prison for over 10 years and holds deep remorse for his conduct. He should be allowed to spend the few remaining moments he has on this earth with the people who — despite his mistakes — still love and care for him.”

Madoff’s request comes nearly seven months after he asked President Donald Trump to reduce his sentence.

And it came three days after the death of former WorldCom CEO Bernard Ebbers, whom a judge ordered released on compassionate grounds in December from federal prison in Texas, where he had been serving a 25-year sentence for overseeing one of the largest accounting frauds in U.S. history.

Sample said in the filling that a prison term that was “just and proportionate at the time of sentencing may become disproportionately severe based on changed circumstances, such as terminal illness.”

“This Court must now consider whether keeping Madoff incarcerated, in light of his terminal kidney failure and a life expectancy of less than 18 months, is truly in furtherance of statutory sentencing goals and our society’s value and understanding of compassion,” the lawyer wrote.



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