Bernie Madoff, who orchestrated one of the largest Ponzi schemes in history, died in prison Wednesday, federal corrections officials said. He was 82. Madoff, the former chairman of Nasdaq, was 12 years into his 150-year prison sentence when he died at the Federal Medical Center in Butner, N.C. Prisons officials did not specify a cause of death.
Madoff’s name because synonymous with Ponzi schemes after prosecutors charged him with swindling Hollywood figures like filmmaker Steven Spielberg and actor Kevin Bacon. A Ponzi scheme is an illegal practice that takes money from new investors to pay profits to earlier investors. The practice can continue for indefinite periods of time.
Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 federal criminal counts in 2009. The Justice Department worked for years to recovered tens of millions of dollars that Madoff stole from victims. The Securities Investor Protection Corporation also gave victims $600 million in insurance payouts.