Financial genius, husband, father, trusted friend, and the perpetrator of the largest financial fraud in U.S. History.
“I have left a legacy of shame.” – Bernie Madoff
Bernard Madoff broke into the financial world in 1960 when he invested his $5,000 savings into starting his own firm — Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC. Madoff was the chairman of the firm until his arrest on December 11, 2008. As the firm expanded, Madoff became known as a financial titan.
In 2008, it was revealed that Madoff had secretly been running an illegal Ponzi scheme and committing fraud since 1992. A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that uses the money of both previous and current investors to pay returns, rather than through profits. The world learned of Madoff’s crimes when he admitted his offenses to his two sons, who then alerted the federal authorities. On December 11, 2008, the FBI arrested and charged Madoff with securities fraud. His projected release date is November 14, 2139.
Madoff’s crime affected many investors, and created widespread damage. The victims ranged from foundations and personalities such as Steven Spielberg’s Wunderkind Foundation and Larry King, to schools, such as New York University. The largest victim of the scheme was Fairfield Greenwich Group, which had approximately invested $7.3 billion in 15 years. Individual investors also took large hits; one man lost $11 million, almost 95% of his net worth. Madoff apologized to his victims saying, “I have left a legacy of shame,” and “I’m sorry…I know that doesn’t help you.”
On March 12, 2009, Madoff pled guilty to 11 federal felonies including money laundering, perjury, and wire fraud. He insisted he was solely responsible for the fraud, and for this, the angry victims of his scheme demanded justice. The trial was a media circus, with people watching nationally and even internationally. Judge Chin called the fraud “extraordinarily evil” and sentenced Madoff to pay $170 billion in restitution and to serve 150 years in prison.
After the trial, Madoff was incarcerated in the Federal Correctional Institution, Butner Medium in North Carolina. Assigned the number 61727-054, Madoff would have to live until the age of 201 to make it to his release date. Writing to his daughter in law, he claimed that in jail it is “much safer than walking the streets of NY.” His family was deeply affected by the experience. His son Mark committed suicide exactly two years after his father’s arrest and shortly after Madoff was exposed, he and his wife attempted suicide by pill overdose on Christmas Eve. Many people’s lives have been devastated by the selfish actions of Bernie Madoff.