Bernie Madoff, the financier who pleaded guilty to orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, died in a federal prison early Wednesday, a person familiar with the matter told the AP. Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, NC, apparently from natural causes, the person said. The person wasn't authorized to speak publicly and spoke to the AP on the condition of anonymity. Last year, Madoff's lawyers filed court papers to try to get the 82-year-old released from prison during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying he had suffered from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions. The request was denied. Both of Madoff's sons have died, Andrew from cancer at age 48 in 2014 and Mark from suicide at age 46 in 2010. Madoff's wife, Ruth, is still living.
Madoff admitted swindling thousands of clients out of billions of dollars in investments over decades. A court-appointed trustee has recovered more than $13 billion of an estimated $17.5 billion that 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. 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 famed film director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon, and Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax. US District Judge Denny Chin showed no mercy, sentencing Madoff to the maximum 150 years in prison.
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