Madoff asked Trump for clemency as an 'act of mercy and grace’

The disgraced Ponzi scheme mastermind said his 150-year sentence was more than some notorious traitors received

FILE - In this Tuesday, March 10, 2009, file photo, former financier Bernie Madoff exits federal court in Manhattan, in New York. Madoff asked a federal judge Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020, to grant him a “compassionate release” from his 150-year prison sentence, saying he has terminal kidney failure and less than 18 months to live. (AP Photo/David Karp, File)

Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff pleaded for former US President Donald Trump to release him from prison early, insisting he never denied his crimes but complaining that his 150-year sentence was more than some notorious traitors received.

“I am asking that the president commute my sentence simply as an act of mercy and grace,” Madoff wrote in his 2019 application for clemency, obtained on Friday by Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act.

Mr Trump’s clemency never came, and Madoff died in prison in April this year at the age of 82.

Madoff ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, defrauding investors of more than $19 billion before his arrest in 2008.

His plea for mercy went through the Office of the Pardon Attorney, a formal channel that Mr Trump often bypassed to grant clemency to high-profile politically charged cases.

Trump often used his presidential pardon power to correct what he saw as unfairness in sentencing, and Madoff’s application appealed to that tendency.

“I have never denied my multiple offences, nor did they involve violence, sex, firearms or national security. I voluntarily entered a plea straight up to all counts in the indictment. I did not appeal,” he said. “I did not get a life sentence, but 150 years is the equivalent, and then some.”

He cited the cases of five people convicted of espionage and treason who each got 10 to 30 years.

Madoff’s request to Mr Trump echoed some of the arguments he made last year, when he asked a judge for compassionate release because of a history of heart and renal problems.

That request was also denied, with the judge saying: “It was fully my intent that he live out the rest of his life in prison.”

“My life expectancy is 80 years,” Madoff wrote in his plea for clemency. “I think that is over-optimistically generous in light of my serious health issues.”

Updated: October 17th 2021, 6:03 AM