Bernard Madoff, who organized the largest Ponzi scheme in American financial history and lost roughly $18 billion for investors, has died at 82.
The former Roslyn resident’s death was reported to The Associated Press by an anonymous source on Wednesday, and was later confirmed by a Bureau of Prisons representative, who said he died early that morning of natural causes.
Madoff was 12 years into serving a 150-year sentence in a federal prison in Butler, North Carolina, where he has been held since he pleaded guilty to 11 counts of financial crimes in 2009, among them fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft. He was also ordered to forfeit $170,799,000,000 as part of his sentence.
Prior to the discovery of the fraud, the Queens-born Madoff, who attended Hofstra University, had been seen as a Wall Street prodigy of sorts. He founded his own firm at 22 and became chairman of Nasdaq in 1990, and also was credited with helping the trading world transition to from analog to electronic.
The fraud scheme allegedly began in the early 1970s, and defrauded as many as 37,000 investors in 136 countries over four decades by the time Madoff was turned in by his two sons in late 2008, after redemption requests flooded in during the financial crisis.
Those affected included the Wilpon family, then owner of the New York Mets; the pension fund of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, later absorbed into Northwell Health; and the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, with Wiesel himself losing his and his wife’s life savings.
The federally run Madoff Victim Fund has since distributed over $3.2 billion in restitution to the thousands of victims and is expected to return over $4 billion in all. Court-appointed trustees have said including the fund and a series of civil forfeitures concerning those involved with Madoff, a total of $13 billion of the estimated $17.5 billion people invested with Madoff has been returned, according to The Associated Press.
According to The Washington Post, the former financier had been in ill health. In February 2020, Madoff had been moved to palliative care within the facility. Lawyers at the time were seeking a “compassionate release” in order for him to die at home, citing kidney failure, a need for round-the-clock help and a life expectancy of less than two years. The request was denied in June.
Madoff’s sons, Andrew and Mark, who grew up in Roslyn, were involved in the firm and told the authorities about their father’s crimes in 2008. They have both since died: Andrew in 2014 due to mantle cell lymphoma and Mark in 2010 through suicide.
Madoff is survived by his former wife, Ruth, who has mostly stayed out of the public eye since his sentence began.
No plans for an internment have yet been announced.