Former New York financier Bernie Madoff should not be released from prison early, even if it means he will die there, prosecutors argued.
The 81-year-old was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison in 2009 for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history and is seeking an early release from prison, citing his deteriorating health. In a court filing last month, Madoff’s lawyers said he had less than 18 months to live because of chronic kidney failure that has progressed to “end-stage renal disease.”
More than 500 victims wrote to a Manhattan federal court judge to oppose early release, while only 20 letter writers supported his release. Madoff showed “a wholesale lack of understanding of the seriousness of his crimes and a lack of compassion for his victims, underscoring that he is undeserving of compassionate release himself,” prosecutors said Wednesday.
The Federal Bureau of Prisons has agreed he has less than two years to live but has denied early release on the grounds that it “would minimize the severity of his offense.”
Prisoners who are given a diagnosis of an incurable illness that is expected to kill them in 18 months or less are eligible for early release under federal guidelines.
Madoff has been imprisoned in Butner, North Carolina, since 2009, after he pleaded guilty to financial crimes, theft, perjury, and money laundering. He was accused of stealing billions of dollars from his clients, many of whom lost their life savings in the Ponzi scheme.
If he’s released, Madoff’s lawyer said he would live with a friend and be financially supported by Social Security and Medicare.