Bernie Madoff should die in prison, not be granted compassionate release: federal prosecutors

Bernard Madoff, the disgraced New York billionaire behind one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, should die in prison despite pleas from the octogenarian's lawyers that he should be allowed to spend his remaining days at home, federal prosecutors said in a Wednesday-night filing.

Lawyers for Madoff asked the court for a compassionate release last month, claiming Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence, has terminal kidney failure and has less than 18 months to live.

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The U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York has pushed strongly back, claiming Madoff's crimes were "unprecedented in scope and magnitude" and his request should be denied.

"Madoff's crimes were extraordinarily evil," prosecutors said. "His sentence was appropriately long. It should not be reduced."

Prosecutors also said Madoff has shown little to no remorse for his crimes.

"Since his sentencing, Madoff has demonstrated 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," the U.S. Attorney's office wrote.

Madoff, who ran Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities in New York City, pleaded guilty in 2009 to 11 crimes related to the bilking of billions of dollars from thousands of investors over several decades.

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More than 500 of Madoff's victims wrote to the court opposing his early release.

One victim, whose husband lost $850,000 to Madoff, wrote to Judge Denny Chin that their "lives, and not just financially, also emotionally, mentally, and physically ... were destroyed."

Another wrote, "I lost all my money and my husband of 40 yers committed suicide because of his horrific crimes. As far as I am concerned, he should spend the rest of his life in jail."

A third victim told Chin that releasing Madoff would be akin to putting "another knife in the hearts of his victims," CNBC reported.

The prosecution's filing also notes that of the 520 letters from victims sent to Chin, just 20 or 4 percent supported Madoff's request to leave prison and go live with a friend.

The individual letters are expected to be released publicly in the near future.

Madoff's lawyer, Brandon Sample, told Reuters that despite what the government alleges, Madoff is remorseful for his conduct and "remains hopeful" his request will be granted.

Madoff's case is one of the biggest tests of the First Step Act, a bipartisan law championed by President Trump that would grant early freedom to prisoners who are elderly or in poor health.

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Among the high-profile prisoners already released under the law is Bernard Ebbers, the former chief of WorldCom Inc., who was convicted in one of the largest corporate accounting scandals in U.S. history. Ebbers died one month after he was released. He was 78.