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Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff dies in prison

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Bernie Madoff, convicted of running the largest-known Ponzi scheme in history, died Wednesday in federal prison where he was serving a 150-year sentence.

He'd been incarcerated in Butner, North Carolina, after he was sentenced in 2009 for engineering a fraud estimated as high as $64.8 billion. He was 82 years old.

Madoff's thousands of victims included individuals big and small, charities, pension funds and hedge funds.

Among those betrayed were actors Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgewick, and John Malkovitch, baseball hall-of-fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, and a charity associated with Hollywood director Steven Spielberg.

Nobel prize-winner Ellie Wiesel's foundation lost more than $15 million in Madoff's fraud.

"We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands," Wiesel said in 2009.

For decades Madoff ran his scheme out of a Midtown Manhattan tower known as the Lipstick Building, lying to his clients about trades he never made and returns that didn't exist, while duping new clients into handing over their wealth.

The money helped Madoff and his wife, Ruth, enjoy luxuries such as a Manhattan penthouse, a French villa and expensive cars and yachts, with a combined net worth of about $825 million.

The scheme collapsed when the 2008 financial crisis drove his investors to try and cash out. But their money was gone.

Ruth Madoff was never charged. She said she felt her husband had betrayed her after nearly a half-century of marriage.

Their son Mark died by suicide in 2010 on the second anniversary of his father’s arrest. Their other son Andrew died of cancer in 2014.

No immediate members of his family were in court when he was sentenced to a century-and-a-half behind bars.

Madoff addressed his victims in attendance, saying, "I am sorry. I know that doesn't help you."

Video Transcript

- Bernie Madoff, convicted of running the largest-known Ponzi scheme in history, died Wednesday in federal prison, where he was serving a 150-year sentence.

- Mr. Madoff, when are you going to say something to the victims?

- He'd been incarcerated in Butner, North Carolina, after he was sentenced in 2009 for engineering a fraud estimated as high as $64.8 billion. He was 82 years old. Madoff's thousands of victims included individuals big and small, charities, pension funds, and hedge funds. Among those betrayed were actors Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, and John Malkovich, Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax, and a charity associated with Hollywood director Steven Spielberg. Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel's foundation lost more than $15 million in Madoff's fraud. Quote, "We thought he was God. We trusted everything in his hands," Wiesel said in 2009.

For decades, Madoff ran his scheme out of a midtown Manhattan tower known as the Lipstick Building, lying to his clients about trades he never made and returns that didn't exist while duping new clients into handing over their wealth. The money helped Madoff and his wife, Ruth, enjoy luxuries such as a Manhattan penthouse, a French villa, and expensive cars and yachts, with a combined net worth of about $825 million.

The scheme collapsed when the 2008 financial crisis drove his investors to try and cash out, but their money was gone. Ruth Madoff was never charged. She said she felt her husband had betrayed her after nearly a half century of marriage. Their son Mark died by suicide in 2010 on the second anniversary of his father's arrest. Their other son, Andrew, died of cancer in 2014.

No immediate members of his family were in court when he was sentenced to a century and a half behind bars. Madoff addressed his victims in attendance, saying, "I am sorry. I know that doesn't help you."