Bernie Madoff, mastermind of vast Ponzi scheme, dies in federal prison at age 82

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Bernie Madoff, the notorious architect of the biggest investment fraud in U.S. history, has died at age 82.

Madoff was serving a 150-year sentence at the federal medical care center in Butner, North Carolina, where his attorney said he was being treated for terminal kidney failure. Last year, Madoff's attorney filed court papers seeking the 82-year-old's release during the coronavirus pandemic, saying he suffered from end-stage renal disease. The request was denied.   

His death is believed to be from natural causes, a spokesman for the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office, Nick Biase, told FOX Business. 

A decades-long force on Wall Street, Madoff shocked the world when he pleaded guilty in 2009 to running a vast Ponzi scheme that prosecutors said swindled thousands out of their life savings. The scheme began in the early 1970s, and by the time Madoff was arrested in December 2008, had defrauded as many as 37,000 people in 136 countries out of up to $65 billion. 

"When I began the Ponzi scheme, I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients," Madoff told the judge at his plea hearing. "However, this proved difficult, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by, I realized that my arrest and this day would inevitably come."

Prior to his downfall, Madoff was a respected figure among financial professionals as the head of the seemingly successful Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities firm. He also served as the chairman of the Nasdaq Stock Market in 1990, 1991 and 1993. 

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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