Denying Release, a Judge Reiterates: Bernie Madoff Will Die in Prison

Convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. (Justice Department photo)

(CN) — Bernie Madoff’s terminal illness will not alter a federal judge’s ruling from just more than a decade ago: The man behind an “extraordinarily evil” Ponzi scheme will die in prison.

“When I sentenced Mr. Madoff in 2009, it was fully my intent that he live out the rest of his life in prison,” Judge Denny Chin, who dealt Madoff’s 150-year sentence before being appointed to the Second Circuit, wrote on Thursday. “His lawyers asked then for a sentence of 12 to 15 to 20 years, specifically with the hope that Mr. Madoff would live to see ‘the light of day.’ I was not persuaded; I did not believe that Mr. Madoff was deserving of that hope. Nothing has happened in the 11 years since to change my thinking.

“While Mr. Madoff’s present medical situation is most unfortunate, compassionate release is not warranted,” Chin added.

Madoff’s attorney Brandon Sample said his client suffers from end-stage renal disease and other conditions that give him less than 18 months to live.

“Judge Chin recognized today that Madoff’s health is in serious decline and that he is, in fact, terminally ill,” Sample wrote. “Nonetheless, Judge Chin essentially found that because of the nature of Madoff’s crimes — Madoff is beyond redemption. We are disappointed with Judge Chin’s refusal to grant Madoff any compassion.”

The financial criminal will seek clemency from President Donald Trump.

“We implore the president to personally consider Madoff’s rapidly declining health,” Sample added.

Chin’s century-and-a-half sentence to Madoff drew scattered applause in a federal courtroom in New York for the largest and most sweeping Ponzi scheme in history.

“Life has been a living hell,” one of his victims Carla Hirshhorn said at the time. “It feels like the nightmare we can’t wake from.”

Tom Fizmaurice, another victim, observed that Madoff’s targets ran the gamut: “He stole from the rich. He stole from the poor. He stole from the in-between. He had no values.”

Letters opposing Madoff’s release showed that this sentiment has not ebbed. Prosecutors said that more than 500 victims opposed his release, and only 20 wrote in support.

“I also agree that at age 81, with his declining physical condition, Mr. Madoff probably does not pose a danger to any person or the community,” Chin wrote. “But as the recent victim letters show, many people are still suffering from Mr. Madoff’s actions. I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him. Even at the end, he was trying to send more millions of his ill-gotten gains to family members, friends, and certain employees.”

Madoff is confined to the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, which — like many prisons throughout the country — is grappling with the coronavirus.

Neither Madoff’s request nor the ruling mentions the pandemic.

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