February 5, 2020 / 10:01 PM / 22 days ago

Bernard Madoff is dying, seeks early release from prison -lawyer

NEW YORK, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Bernard Madoff is dying of kidney failure and seeking early “compassionate release” from his 150-year prison sentence for masterminding what prosecutors have called the largest Ponzi scheme ever, according to a court filing on Wednesday.

Madoff, 81, suffers from terminal kidney failure and has a fewer than 18 months to live, according to the filing from his lawyer.

He is seeking release under the First Step Act, a bipartisan law signed in December 2018 that lets some older prisoners obtain freedom, often for health reasons.

A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman in Manhattan, whose office prosecuted Madoff, declined to comment.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to 11 criminal counts for running what prosecutors called a $64.8 billion fraud.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin called Madoff’s crimes “extraordinarily evil” when he imposed the 150-year sentence in June 2009.

Bernard Ebbers, the former WorldCom Inc chief executive, was granted early release in December from his 25-year prison sentence for orchestrating an accounting scandal at his phone company. He died on Sunday at age 78.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler

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