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Bernie Madoff Says He’s Dying and Seeks Early Prison Release

Bernard L. Madoff, the mastermind of the largest Ponzi scheme in history, said in a court filing on Wednesday that he was dying and asked for an early release from prison.

Mr. Madoff, 81, has less than 18 months to live after entering the final stages of kidney disease, the filing said.

In 2009, Mr. Madoff admitted to running a scheme that bilked thousands of investors out of their cash, wiping out his victims’ savings and destroying lives. He was sentenced to 150 years in federal prison.

“Madoff does not dispute the severity of his crimes, nor does he seek to minimize the suffering of his victims,” his lawyer, Brandon Sample, wrote in the filing. “Madoff humbly asks this court for a modicum of compassion.”

Mr. Madoff, who was a prominent New York financier, has chronic kidney failure that has progressed to “end-stage renal disease,” the filing said. He uses a wheelchair and a back brace, and was admitted to palliative care in July. He also suffers from cardiovascular disease, hypertension and a series of other ailments, including back pain and insomnia, according to the filing.

Doctors determined in September that Mr. Madoff had less than a year and a half to live, according to Bureau of Prisons medical records included in the filing. Under federal guidelines, prisoners who receive a diagnosis of an incurable illness that is expected to kill them in 18 months or less can be eligible for early release.

In September, Mr. Madoff filed a separate petition for early release. The Bureau of Prisons denied it.

“Mr. Madoff was accountable of a loss to investors of over $13 billion,” Ken Hyle, the bureau’s general counsel, wrote in a letter denying that request in December. “Accordingly, in light of the nature and circumstances of his offense, his release at this time would minimize the severity of his offense.”

The filing on Wednesday disputed that decision, arguing that Mr. Madoff had “already been punished significantly for his crimes.”

Mr. Madoff has been held at a federal prison in Butner, N.C., since July 2009, after he pleaded guilty to 11 counts of financial crimes, including fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft. He received the maximum possible sentence.

He was accused of using his investment advisory firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, to steal billions from his clients, cheating many of them out of their life savings. Rather than investing their money, Mr. Madoff spent it on family and friends. He then took in money from additional investors to pay earlier ones in an effort to cover up his fraud.

In 2008, Mr. Madoff told his sons, both of whom have since died, that his firm, had committed enormous fraud. His family notified federal agents, who arrested him the next day.

Last year, he filed a petition for clemency with the Justice Department, seeking to have President Trump commute his sentence. In interviews with The Washington Post published on Wednesday, Mr. Madoff expressed remorse for his deeds, saying he “made a terrible mistake.”

“I’m terminally ill,” Mr. Madoff said. “There’s no cure for my type of disease. So, you know, I’ve served. I’ve served 11 years already, and, quite frankly, I’ve suffered through it.”

Sheelagh McNeil contributed research.