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Bernie Madoff seeks prison release due to terminal kidney failure

NEW YORK – Reviled Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff on Wednesday sought compassionate release from his 150-year prison term, saying he has terminal kidney failure and less than 18 months to live.

Madoff, held in federal custody since his 2009 guilty plea to charges that he stole roughly $20 billion from celebrities, charities, financial funds, and average investors, was admitted to the comfort care unit of a Butner, North Carolina, prison in July for  “end-stage renal disease,” attorney Brandon Sample wrote in a Manhattan federal court motion. 

The disgraced 81-year-old ex-financier is confined to a wheelchair, suffers shortness of breath that requires him to get supplemental oxygen at night, and also has cardiovascular disease and has other health ailments, the filing said.

He was admitted to a comfort care unit at the prison in July. After initially refusing dialysis, the blood-filtering procedure commonly prescribed for kidney-failure patients, he agreed to start that treatment in December, the court filing said.  

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File photo taken in 2009 shows Ponzi scheme mastermind Bernard Madoff  leaving Manhattan Federal court in New York City after a court hearing.

“The nature of Mr. Madoff’s serious medical conditions coupled with the effects of incarceration will only cause his overall physical condition to worsen as his illnesses progress and his death becomes ever more inevitable,” wrote Sample.

While stressing that Madoff doesn’t dispute “the severity of his crimes” or “seek to minimize the suffering of his victims,” the filing argued that the convicted scammer’s conditions meet the guidelines for compassionate release.

Sample filed the motion with the court after the U.S. Bureau of Prisons rejected the administrative request for release Madoff filed in September 2019. The ruling  said setting Madoff free “would minimize the severity of his offense.”

The court that sentenced him represents Madoff’s last chance for end-of-life freedom, wrote Sample, who noted in the filing that Scotland granted Lockerbie bomber Abdel Baset Ali al-Megrahi compassionate release for his crimes after he developed terminal prostate cancer.

Sample also cited the case of Bernard Ebbers, the former chief executive of the former WorldCom telecommunications company that went bankrupt in 2002. He was sentenced to a 25-year prison term for an estimated $11 billion accounting fraud.

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