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Bernie Madoff, the American financier who masterminded the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history — bilking thousands, including residents in Malibu, out of billions — has died.
The 82-year-old was serving a 150-year sentence for money laundering, securities fraud and several other felonies in a federal medical care center in North Carolina when he died on April 14, according to Fox Business.
A spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office said the death is believed to be from natural causes.
Madoff’s decades-long thieving ways began in the 1970s and his 37,000 or so victims included names you knew, among them Steven Spielberg, and those you don’t, ordinary investors, some of whom were swindled out of their life savings.
He was arrested in 2008; the following year he pleaded guilty to running a $65 Ponzi scheme that touched more than 160 countries.
A Malibu Colony beach home belonging to a couple duped by Madoff enjoyed some notoriety in 2009, when the Los Angeles times revealed that a Wells Fargo Bank executive responsible for foreclosed commercial properties was using the foreclosed $12 million pad for private parties.
That exec was let go, but not before outcry from neighbors and real estate agents who said, after the couple surrendered their property to Wells Fargo, the bank refused to show it to prospective buyers.
Madoff’s lawyers tried to get the crook released from prison because of the pandemic, claiming ill health made him a candidate for monitored home confinement, but a judge refused the motion.