Bernard Madoff, the former financier who masterminded the biggest investment fraud in US history, died at 82.
Madoff’s death at the Federal Medical Center in North Carolina was confirmed by his lawyer and the Bureau of Prisons on Wednesday. According to a person who spoke with the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, Madoff died from natural causes.
Over decades, Madoff defrauded thousands of investors while amassing a $65 billion fortune using an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Many Jewish organizations and families were left financially ruined, including Yeshiva University, Hadassah, the Women’s Zionist Organization of America, and other prestigious Jewish organizations and family foundations.
Madoff began his career as a stock trader in the 1960s and briefly served as chairman of the NASDAQ. Later, he founded the Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm, which was incredibly successful until the economic crisis of 2008.
In 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies, admitting that he had turned his wealth management business into the world’s largest Ponzi scheme, benefiting himself, his family, and select members of his inner circle. He received a 150-year prison sentence.
The US Justice Department set up a fund for his victims and by April 2020 had distributed more than $2.7 billion to nearly 38,000 defrauded investors. In February 2020, Madoff’s lawyers sought a “compassionate release,” saying that their client suffered from terminal kidney failure and other chronic conditions. The plea for early release was denied.