Bernie Madoff tried to get clemency from Donald Trump in 2019, and last year asked to be released from prison because of kidney disease. He didn’t get the presidential get-out-of-jail-free card, and didn’t get the compassionate release, but Madoff is now off the hook for the remaining 138 years of his federal prison term for running a massive Ponzi scheme.
Madoff died on Wednesday morning at age 82, as reported by the Associated Press, having spent the last 12 years of his rotten life behind bars.
During his career as a criminal, Madoff defrauded investors for billions of dollars, until his massive Ponzi scheme was exposed in 2008. Among his clients were Sandy Koufax and the Hall of Famer’s childhood friend, former Mets owner Fred Wilpon. So deep were the Mets’ ties to Madoff that Wilpon and Saul Katz, Wilpon’s brother-in-law and partner with the Mets, had to pay millions of dollars as part of the settlement in Madoff’s fraud case.
While Wilpon once thought that his investments with Madoff would cover the cost of things like Bobby Bonilla’s annual million-dollar payments, the fallout from the Ponzi scheme wound up hamstringing the Mets for years. Finally, last fall, Wilpon and his family sold the team to actual billionaire Steve Cohen.
Madoff’s victims were far wider than just the rich and famous. His scheme wiped out families’ savings and crushed charitable foundations. A reputable businessman as one of the founders of the NASDAQ exchange, Madoff’s side hustle was running a fake investment portfolio that defied dips in the market, and paid out returns to investors by simply giving them the cash from newer investors.
Since the Wilpons were among those who actually got payouts from Madoff — $300 million worth — they were on the hook as part of the efforts to return money to investors who were defrauded.
Madoff’s crimes drove some of his victims to suicide, and his son Mark killed himself in 2010, on the anniversary of the fraudster’s arrest. Madoff is survived by his wife, Ruth, who reached a settlement with the trustee for her husband’s victims in 2019.