Bernie Madoff’s bid for early prison release rejected
Judge who sentenced the Ponzi king to 150 years behind bars says ‘he has never fully accepted responsibility for his actions’; lawyer hoping Trump will commute his sentence
NEW YORK (AP) — A dying Ponzi king Bernard Madoff lost his bid for early release from prison Thursday when the judge who sentenced him to 150 years behind bars said he intended for him to die there and nothing has happened in the last 11 years to change his mind.
Judge Denny Chin, who now sits on the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals, noted the continuing suffering of Madoff’s thousands of victims who lost $17.5 billion when a decades-long scheme that deceived them into thinking their money was invested properly was exposed in December 2008.
“I also believe that Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him. Even at the end, he was trying to send more millions of his ill-gotten gains to family members, friends, and certain employees,” Chin wrote.
The judge said he’d reviewed public statements made by Madoff, 82, and found they “show that he has never fully accepted responsibility for his actions and that he even faults his victims.”
Madoff, housed at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, North Carolina, through his lawyers had requested compassionate release, which lets some prisoners go home if they are likely to die within 18 months.
Attorney Brandon Sample, representing Madoff, said in a statement he was disappointed with the ruling.
He said he now hopes US President Donald Trump would consider commuting the sentence.
“We implore the President to personally consider Madoff’s rapidly declining health,” Sample said.
Prison authorities had determined Madoff was likely to die within 18 months of kidney disease. Sample had argued that Madoff was confined to a wheelchair and wanted to contest claims by prosecutors that he has failed to show remorse.
Prosecutors opposed the request, saying 500 victims opposed early release and only 20 letters were written by victims in support of release.
A trustee has recovered roughly $14 billion for investors, but the damage to victims was worsened because Madoff created fraudulent statements to suggest their investments had grown enormously, authorities said.
The fraud was exposed in December 2008 as the national economy collapsed. Madoff pleaded guilty to fraud charges and was sentenced by Chin in the summer of 2009.
Chin said in his written decision Thursday that in 2009 “it was fully my intent that he live out the rest of his life in prison.”
He noted that Madoff’s lawyers then had asked for a sentence of as little as a dozen years, hoping their client would again see “the light of day.”
“I was not persuaded,” Chin said. “I did not believe that Mr. Madoff was deserving of that hope. Nothing has happened in the 11 years since to change my thinking.”