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Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernie Madoff appeals for 'compassionate release' due to terminal illness

Bernard Madoff is dying of kidney failure and seeking early "compassionate release" from his 150-year prison sentence for masterminding what prosecutors have called the largest Ponzi scheme ever, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence for masterminding a massive Ponzi scheme

Disgraced Wall Street financier Bernard Madoff is asking for a compassionate release from prison saying he is dying of kidney failure. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

Bernard Madoff is dying of kidney failure and seeking early "compassionate release" from his 150-year prison sentence for masterminding what prosecutors have called the largest Ponzi scheme ever, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

In a court filing on Wednesday, Madoff's lawyer said the 81-year-old is confined to a wheelchair, often requires oxygen, and suffers from cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insomnia and other chronic and serious medical conditions.

Madoff is perhaps the most prominent federal prisoner to seek "compassionate release" under the First Step Act, a bipartisan law signed by U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 that lets some older prisoners end their sentences early, often for health reasons.

He had previously asked Trump to commute his sentence, but Trump had yet to act.

A spokesperson for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, whose office prosecuted Madoff, said that office will respond to the filing.

'A broken man'

Madoff's request will be considered by Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who called his crimes "extraordinarily evil" when he imposed the 150-year sentence in June 2009, three months after Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts.

Prosecutors said Madoff used his firm Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC to swindle thousands of individuals, charities, pension funds and hedge funds in a $64.8 billion US fraud.

Madoff has been living at the federal prison complex in Butner, N.C., and was moved recently to a medical facility there.

His lawyer, Brandon Sample, said in an interview that other prisoners referred Madoff to him, and that he had visited Madoff at Butner last summer.

"Bernard Madoff is a broken man, and had a lot of personal loss," Sample said.

"That's not to diminish the impact of his crimes on his victims, but there are larger ideals at work when we consider whether to show compassion on someone in their final days."

Both sons dead

Madoff has lost both his sons since being imprisoned. His older son, Mark Madoff, hanged himself with a dog leash in 2010, while Andrew Madoff died of cancer four years later.

Sample said Madoff would likely live with a friend if granted compassionate release, and spend his remaining time "with the few people left in this world who care about him."

Bernard Ebbers, the former WorldCom Inc chief executive, was granted early release in December from his 25-year prison sentence for orchestrating an accounting scandal at his phone company. He died on Sunday at age 78.

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