dead at 82, Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. “There is no innocent explanation.”
If anything a nightly rant by David Letterman about Madoff marked the 2000s, with $65 billion swindled.
Among his victims were director Steven Spielberg, actor Kevin Bacon and Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel. But he had ties to sports figures as well. Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax was a client. And former Mets owners Fred Wilpon, Jeff Wilpon and Saul Katz were major investors. Their involvement changed the trajectory of the franchise.
Wilpon and Katz had over 500 accounts with Madoff and were sued for $1 billion by the trustee for the victims who claimed they knew, or should have known, about the fraudulent returns from Madoff's scheme, according to The New York Times.
While Madoff did do business with the rich and famous, he also defrauded everyday investors and charities. He was so reviled that he had to wear a bulletproof vest to court.
Bernie Madoff, the financier who orchestrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, has died. He was 82.
He died Wednesday at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C., the Federal Bureau of Prisons confirmed, and had been serving out a 150-year sentence.
As a money manager, Madoff defrauded thousands of investors out of tens of billions of dollars. The former NASDAQ chairman pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts in 2009 at the age of 71.
His lawyer had filed a motion for compassionate release in February 2020, saying Madoff was suffering from end-stage renal disease and other chronic medical conditions with a life expectancy of less than 18 months.
Madoff founded a penny stock brokerage in 1960, which eventually grew into Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities. He served as its chairman until his arrest on December 11, 2008. The firm was one of the top market maker businesses on Wall Street, which bypassed “specialist” firms by directly executing orders over the counter from retail brokers.
At the firm, he employed his brother Peter Madoff as senior managing director and chief compliance officer, Peter's daughter Shana Madoff as the firm's rules and compliance officer and attorney, and his now deceased sons Mark and Andrew. Peter was sentenced to 10 years in prison and Mark died by suicide by hanging exactly two years after his father's arrest. Andrew died of lymphoma on September 3, 2014.
On December 10, 2008, Madoff's sons told authorities that their father had confessed to them that the asset management unit of his firm was a massive Ponzi scheme, and quoted him as saying that it was “one big lie”. The following day, FBI agents arrested Madoff and charged him with one count of securities fraud. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) had previously conducted multiple investigations into his business practices but had not uncovered the massive fraud. On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal felonies and admitted to turning his wealth management business into a massive Ponzi scheme. The Madoff investment scandal defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. Madoff said that he began the Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s, but federal investigators believe that the fraud began as early as the mid-1980s and may have begun as far back as the 1970s. Those charged with recovering the missing money believe that the investment operation may never have been legitimate. The amount missing from client accounts was almost $65 billion, including fabricated gains. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) trustee estimated actual losses to investors of $18 billion. On June 29, 2009, Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison, the maximum allowed.