Bernard Madoff says he is dying and is asking a judge for compassionate release from prison, where he is serving 150 years for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history, according to a Wednesday federal court filing.
Madoff, 81, has terminal kidney failure and a life expectancy of less than 18 months, according to the filing.
He was arrested in December 2008 on allegations that the prestigious asset management firm he ran in Manhattan was in fact a pyramid-type scheme that swindled billions of dollars from thousands of people. He pleaded guilty to 11 felony charges related to money laundering, perjury and falsifying financial documents. He began his prison term in July 2009.
Madoff has been serving his sentence at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina.
When the court sentenced him, “it was clear that Madoff’s 150-year prison sentence was symbolic for three reasons: retribution, deterrence, and for the victims,” the court filing states. “This Court must now consider whether keeping Madoff incarcerated … is truly in furtherance of statutory sentencing goals and our society’s value and understanding of compassion.”
Madoff said in the request for compassionate release that he “does not dispute the severity of his crimes.”
In September, Madoff submitted a request to the Bureau of Prisons for compassionate release, according to a letter from his attorney, Brandon Sample, to a warden at the Butner Federal Correction Complex. The letter states that Madoff had been living in the prison’s hospice facility.
The request was denied on December 5. In a letter detailing the denial, the warden did not dispute Madoff’s condition or his life expectancy, but noted that Madoff has refused dialysis.
“Mr. Madoff was accountable for a loss to investors of over $13 billion,” the warden’s letter states. “Accordingly, in light of the nature and circumstances of his offense, his release at this time would minimize the severity of his offense. Therefore, although he meets the criteria for a (compassionate release), his (reduction in sentence) request is denied.”
Madoff is now asking a judge to reverse that decision, saying in the Wednesday filing that he presents “extraordinary and compelling reasons” for compassionate release.
He has also asked President Donald Trump to commute his sentence.
In June, it was reported that Madoff filed a clemency petition, though it is unclear when the request was submitted. The petition is still listed as “pending” on the Department of Justice website.
Madoff’s health has been in the news for years. In January 2014, CNBC reported receiving an email from him in which he said he had a heart attack a month earlier and was suffering from stage 4 kidney disease.
Madoff’s son Mark died by suicide in 2010. His other son, Andrew, died of cancer in 2014.
In a rare 2013 interview, Madoff told CNN from prison that he was “responsible for my son Mark’s death and that’s very, very difficult.”
“I live with that. I live with the remorse, the pain I caused everybody, certainly my family, and the victims,” he said.
Following his arrest, the Madoff family’s assets were auctioned off, and the government appointed a trustee who worked to recoup the $17.5 billion in principal investments that Madoff’s firm made. The Madoff Recovery Initiative has so far paid out nearly $13 billion, and another fund has paid out more than $2 billion to tens of thousands of victims, according to the funds’ websites.