Disgraced financier Bernie Madoff pleaded for 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 Friday by Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act.
Trump’s clemency never came, and Madoff died in prison in April 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.
Madoff’s plea for mercy went through the Office of the Pardon Attorney, a formal channel that Trump often bypassed in order 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 offenses, 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 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 8.0 years,” Madoff wrote in his plea for clemency. “I think that is over-optimistically generous in light of my serious health issues.”
“Sadly, and due entirely to my criminal actions, a lot of people lost a lot of money. I of course forfeited everything I owned, which brought in a significant amount when auctioned by the United States Marshal,” he said, noting that 75% of the losses were recovered.