Bernie Madoff, Notorious Wall Street Fraudster, Dies in Prison At 82

Justin Durko, Staff Writer

Last Wednesday, convicted fraudster and the runner of the world’s largest-ever Ponzi scheme, Bernie Madoff, died at the Federal Correctional Complex, Butner, in North Carolina. Madoff was serving a 150-year sentence for securities fraud after using his brokerage firm to defraud tens of billions of dollars from investors and companies for decades.

Madoff was a well-known figure in Wall Street from the 1970s to the 2000s as the owner of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, which he founded in 1960. It handled stock trading at a level that at one point rivaled the New York Stock Exchange in the 1980s. Unbeknownst to the industry, Madoff used the asset management wing of the firm to run an intricate Ponzi scheme, a form of fraud that involves paying out other investors’ money to earlier investors to make an illusion of success. Having made enough money to have his scheme reach investors in Europe and Asia by the 1990s, it continued even further, which Madoff admits was due in part to decades of negligence from the SEC and other financial authorities.

In late 2008, while the United States was still in the throes of the Great Recession, his investors began to take enough of their money out of their Madoff investments that it was a matter of time before he was caught. Realizing this, Madoff confessed his crimes to his sons, who consulted lawyers to contact the authorities on their behalf. Investors small and large went into ruin, homes were lost, and Wall Street’s reputation among the public as a breeding ground of greed and deception, especially at that time, was seemingly affirmed. When his trial began, prosecutors pointed to not just the financial ruin he caused but the shame he left his family, which would last generations. Madoff’s son, Mark, took his own life on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest, citing the stress from accusations against his family being complicit in his father’s crime for years.

Madoff was sentenced on June 29th, 2009, to a 150-year prison sentence and an order to pay $170 billion in restitution, a sum that included the legitimate money his firm made along with the money from his Ponzi scheme. After his arrest and trial were met with a media firestorm, Madoff began his sentence and his presence slowly dissipated from news outlets. However, he lingered in the public conscience as a notorious symbol of malice and greed. For the years that followed, billions were returned to those who were frauded, although many of the funds have yet to be paid out. Madoff stayed quiet while in prison, but in February was brought up again after his lawyer revealed he was terminally ill and was filing for compassionate release. However, the request was swiftly declined due to how severe his crimes were. He died on April 14th at age 82 from kidney failure.