Bernard Madoff, who for decades masqueraded as a successful and trustworthy Wall Street kingpin before admitting to running the largest known Ponzi scheme in history, died on Wednesday in prison where he was serving a 150-year sentence. He was 82.
A spokeswoman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Madoff died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, about 3:30 a.m. EDT (0730 GMT).
His death was believed to be from natural causes. Madoff had suffered from terminal kidney disease and several other medical ailments.
Madoff was imprisoned for engineering a fraud estimated as high as $64.8 billion. The judge who sentenced him in June 2009 condemned his crimes as “extraordinarily evil.”
In February 2020, Madoff had sought “compassionate release” from prison so he could die at home, but the same judge denied that request.
“Bernie, up until his death, lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes,” Madoff’s lawyer Brandon Sample said in a statement.
“Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was – he was also a father and a husband. He was soft spoken and an intellectual. Bernie was by no means perfect. But no man is.”
Madoff concealed his fraud through multiple recessions and the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, but the 2008 financial crisis proved his undoing, as investors demanded he redeem $7 billion he did not have.
His Ponzi scheme made him a poster child for Wall Street greed, shining a harsh light on both his accomplices and on regulators who seemed on the cusp of exposing him, but failed.
In a typical Ponzi scheme, money from newer investors is used to pay sums owed to earlier investors.
Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, 2008, after confessing to sons Mark and Andrew that his investment advisory business had been “one big lie.” They revealed the scheme to authorities.