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Prosecutors oppose early prison release for Bernard Madoff

Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence for a decades-long Ponzi scheme, has terminal kidney disease.

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Prosecutors have opposed Bernard Madoff being granted early release from prison. The 81-year-old may only have 18 months to live (David Karp/AP)

Prosecutors have opposed Bernard Madoff being granted early release from prison. The 81-year-old may only have 18 months to live (David Karp/AP)

Prosecutors have opposed Bernard Madoff being granted early release from prison. The 81-year-old may only have 18 months to live (David Karp/AP)

US prosecutors have called for Bernard Madoff not to be released early from prison even if kidney disease kills him within months.

The 81-year-old received a 150-year prison sentence in 2009 for a decades-long Ponzi scheme that cost thousands of investors billions of dollars.

Madoff had 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 himself,” prosecutors said.

Prosecutors cited numerous letters from more than 500 victims, including one from a woman who said her husband of 40 years committed suicide after learning of the fraud and another in which an 84-year-old victim said: “Why should he be shown any compassion, when he had none for his many victims?”

Madoff’s lawyer had asked that he be released early under the terms of a program that permits compassionate release for some inmates if they have less than 18 months to live.

Why should he be shown any compassion, when he had none for his many victims?An unnamed victim of Madoff's Ponzi scheme

The Federal Bureau of Prisons agreed he has less than 18 months to live but denied early release on the grounds that it “would minimise the severity of his offence”.

Madoff is confined to a wheelchair while he battles terminal kidney disease and other ailments, his lawyer said in an early February court filing.

The attorney, Brandon Sample, said Madoff has a back brace and medical shoes and is permitted to be aided by an inmate companion as he suffers from leg cramps, weakness, fatigue and uses an oxygen container to relieve shortness of breath.

“The government recognises the serious nature of Madoff’s illness and his general eligibility for a sentence reduction,” Mr Sample said in a statement.

“Madoff, despite what the government might claim, is remorseful for his conduct. A reply addressing the government’s other contentions will be filed.”

Madoff began his sentence months after he confessed to his family and others that the $17.5 billion (£13.6 billion) entrusted to him by thousands of investors had never been invested, even though he claimed it had grown in value by tens of billions of dollars.

Madoff, despite what the government might claim, is remorseful for his conduct.Madoff's lawyer Brandon Sample

At the time, there was only several hundred thousand dollars left.

His Ponzi scheme, estimated to have begun as early as the 1980s, destroyed or crippled the finances of many individuals and charitable organisations worldwide while Madoff used the money to fund an extravagant lifestyle.

In arguing for compassionate release, Mr Sample called his client’s sentence “symbolic”, saying it was given for retribution, deterrence and for the victims.

He argued compassionate release was appropriate in light of his terminal illness, life expectancy of less than 18 months and “our society’s value and understanding of compassion”.

If freed, Madoff will live with a friend, financially supported by Social Security and Medicare benefits, Mr Sample wrote.

Last week, Irving H. Picard, a trustee appointed to recover money for Madoff’s victims, reported that nearly 70% of the allowable losses reported by Madoff’s customers has been repaid.

PA