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Bernie Madoff Biography

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Bernard “Bernie” Lawrence Madoff, is currently best known for running a massive Ponzi schemes. His massive fraud worth over $50 billion has affected fund holders including several celebrities including director Steven Spielberg. On June 29, 2009, 71 year old Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Bernie Madoff, son of Polish immigrants Ralph and Sylvia Madoff, was born in New York City April 29, 1938. While attending Far Rockaway High, Madoff was a swimmer and competed on the high school swim team. He also earned money as a lifeguard at the Silver Point Beach Club in Atlantic Beach, Long Island. After attending Far Rockaway High School he spent one year at Alabama University and then moved to and graduated with a political science degree from Hofstra University in 1960. In 1959 Madoff married Ruth Alpern whom he had met in junior high school.

Bernie Madoff studied law at Brooklyn Law School, but quit the first year to began his own investment firm. Using money he had saved from previous life guarding jobs, Madoff and his wife founded Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, LLC. With the help of his father-in-law, Madoff created an impressive client list including stars such as Steven Spielberg, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgewick. The company grew a reputation for its annual returns of 10 percent or more and, by the 1980s, his firm was one of the largest firms trading on the New York Stock Exchange. He was also the Chairman of the NASDAQ stock exchange. Madoff was a prolific philanthropist giving campaign contributions mostly to the Democratic Party.

Madoff employeed several members of his family in the business. In 1970 his brother Peter became the firm's chief compliance officer. Later, Madoff's sons Andrew and Mark also worked for the company as traders. Peter's daughter, Shana, became a rules-compliance lawyer for the trading division of her uncle's firm, and his son, Roger, joined the firm before his death in 2006.

In December of 2008 Madoff then admitted that a branch of his firm was actually an elaborate Ponzi scheme. Madoff's sons reported their father to federal authorities and he was arrested and charged with securities fraud. He later admitted to losing $50 billion of investors' money, and pled guilty to 11 felony count including securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements, perjury, false filings with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and theft from an employee benefit plan.

Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison on June 29, 2009—the maximum possible prison sentence for the 71-year-old defendant.