More than $3 billion has been paid out to tens of thousands of victims swindled by notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who died in federal prison on Wednesday at the age of 82, according to the Madoff Victim Fund.
The fund, which is overseen by the Department of Justice’s victim compensation program, was launched in 2013 and expects to pay out more than $4 billion, the DOJ said last year.
The feds announced in December that it would distribute $488 million in recovered funds to more than 30,000 victims across the globe. The distribution was the sixth Madoff Victim Fund payout, DOJ said at the time.
Victims of the scammer — who span 125 countries and 49 US states — have now recouped about 80 percent of the cash bilked from them, according to the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
Madoff, who pleaded guilty to 11 counts of various financial crimes in 2009, died in federal prison in North Carolina on Wednesday morning, the Bureau of Prisons said.
The fraudster ripped off $65 billion from investors — including his friends and family — through a corrupt wealth management business he ran for years.
Madoff sought compassionate release from prison in the summer of 2020, with his lawyers arguing he had only months to live because of advanced kidney disease.
After his plea, hundreds of victims of the Ponzi schemer wrote letters to a federal judge, urging the jurist to keep him behind bars.
One victim, the wife of an investor who killed himself, noted how she, “lost all my money and my husband of 40 years” because of Madoff’s “horrific crimes.”
“As far as I am concerned, he should spend the rest of his life in jail,” she wrote.
Prosecutors said it was “remarkable that so many victims took the time to write to the Court over 10 years after Madoff’s original sentencing.
“Their letters show how deeply Madoff’s crimes continue to affect his victims, many of whom, as one put it in a letter to the Court, are ‘serv[ing] a kind of life sentence of [their] own.’”