Madoff Requests Compassionate Release, Citing Poor Health



Madoff’s mugshot from his 2008 arrest. (Photo courtesy of the U.S. Department of Justice)

Convicted financial criminal and former Roslyn resident Bernie Madoff has requested to be let out of prison early on compassionate release.

The 81-year-old former hedge fund manager, who ran the largest Ponzi scheme yet uncovered in the history of the planet, said his health has deteriorated to the point where he has less than a year and a half to live. According federal law, a sentence reduction or compassionate release “may be given to inmates who have been diagnosed with a terminal, incurable disease and whose life expectancy is 18 months or less, and/or has a disease or condition with an end-of-life trajectory.”

The documents Madoff’s legal team submitted to federal court in the Southern District of New York say Madoff has been diagnosed with end-stage kidney disease and has been issued a back brace and a walker to aid his mobility.

Also among the documents is a memorandum from Federal Bureau of Prisons General Counsel Ken Hyle in which an earlier request for a reduction in sentence was denied in December. In the letter, Hyle reveals Madoff has refused dialysis and any further testing for his conditions and was admitted to the comfort care program at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, a prison for male inmates with serious health concerns. While Hyle confirmed Madoff’s condition places him within all necessary parameters to request compassionate release, he still recommended he be kept in confinement after the severity of his crimes.

“Mr. Madoff was accountable for a loss to investors of over $13 billion,” Hyle wrote in December. “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 RIS [reduction in sentence] under section 3(a), his RIS request is denied.”

In the motion for compassionate release, Madoff’s attorney Brandon Sample noted Scotland released Pan Am Flight 103 bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi from his life sentence in 2009 after al-Megrahi was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, using the case as a window into asking whether Madoff might deserve the same mercy.

“When this court sentenced Bernard Madoff, it was clear that Madoff’s 150-year prison sentence was symbolic for three reasons: retribution, deterrence and for the victims,” Sample wrote. “Over the past ten years circumstances have changed. This court must now consider whether keeping Madoff incarcerated, in light of his terminal kidney failure and a life expectancy of less than 18 months, is truly in furtherance of statutory sentencing goals and our society’s value and understanding of compassion.”

The former hedge fund manager previously made a plea for President Donald Trump to grant him clemency in July of last year, but the executive has not granted the request as of yet. Trump previously described Madoff as a “sleazebag” when news of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme broke 12 years ago.

Madoff’s imprisonment has been marked by his declining health at several points. In 2014, reports surfaced that the fraudster had a heart attack in prison and had been suffering from kidney cancer. His downturn in recent years stands in stark contrast to his own recounting of his early years at the notoriously cushy and college-like federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. Back in 2011, Madoff a letter to his daughter-in-law bragging about how many friends he had in the facility. He said the other inmates in the prison treated him “like a mafia don.”

Madoff is perhaps the single most infamous person to call Roslyn home. He and his family moved in the community in the ‘60s, and lived there for decades. His sons Mark and Andrew both attended Roslyn High School, and wound up working as employees of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities while their father managed the Ponzi scheme. Mark ultimately committed suicide in 2010, two years to the day after his father was arrested. Andrew died of lymphoma in 2014. The estates of both men were poured through by the Madoff Victim Fund afterwards, which ultimately recovered $23 million that went to victims of the financial family’s crimes.


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