Calif. money manager accused of diverting hundreds of millions of dollars to Madoff dies at 84

Stanley Chais, a once-esteemed investment manager and philanthropist whose reputation was marred by accusations he steered hundreds of millions of his clients' dollars to con man Bernard Madoff, died Sunday, his wife said. He was 84.

His wife, Pamela Chais, declined to disclose the cause of death. A spokeswoman for New York City's medical examiner, Ellen Borakove, said he died of natural causes.

Chais had moved to New York in recent years, where he was undergoing treatment for myelodysplasia, a blood disorder. He had lived for years in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was known as a lavish supporter of Israeli nonprofits.

The Los Angeles Times first reported Chais' death.

The Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil fraud charges against Chais in 2009, alleging he falsely told investors he was personally managing nearly $1 billion in three funds. The SEC said he was actually a middleman for Madoff, turning over the assets while collecting more than $250 million in fees.

The SEC called him one of the biggest feeders of funds to Madoff.

The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan had asked a judge in December to delay the civil case while it determined whether to bring criminal charges. None were filed.

Chais' attorney, Eugene Licker, said Chais was "solely a victim" and that the SEC's allegations created a "distorted and false picture" of his client. Licker did not respond to a request for comment late Sunday.

The SEC accused Chais and members of his family of withdrawing about $500 million more than they had invested with Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars in the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.