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Bernie Madoff, who ran massive Ponzi scheme, asks Trump for clemency

Bernie Madoff, the mastermind of the biggest Ponzi scheme in history, is seeking help from President Trump, hoping to shorten his 150-year prison sentence. Madoff, who pleaded guilty to securities fraud that cost investors $65 billion dollars in 2009, is seeking clemency from the president, according to a pending case file with the Department of Justice.

The former NASDAQ chairman is hoping to have his prison sentence shortened. He's currently serving his time in federal custody in North Carolina. The scheme —which Madoff ran for at least two decades — effectively wiped out the life savings of thousands of individuals and the investments of universities, charities, institutional investors and even celebrities. 

The president himself said he was offered to invest in Madoff's fund but declined, according to a 2009 Vanity Fair interview. 

"Madoff said to me one time, 'Why don't you invest in my fund?' Which was a little different than what I'd been hearing, in terms of his philosophy. Usually he'd tell people they couldn't invest," said Mr. Trump at the time. He said Madoff was "a Svengali for rich people. He took their money like it was candy, chewed it up and spit it out."

For decades, Madoff's investment fund made no trades, allowing investors to redeem their accounts by drawing from the accounts of new investors. In late 2008, with the onset of the financial crisis, he could no longer keep up with the redemption requests from nervous investors and was forced to admit to his family that he had been running a massive Ponzi scheme. His sons turned him in to federal authorities and he was arrested in December 2008.

The scandal resulted in a half dozen arrests of Madoff associates and destroyed Madoff's own family. His son, Mark Madoff, killed himself on the second anniversary of his father's arrest. 

Mr. Trump has granted clemencies through various means, in particular when celebrities like Kim Kardashian and other associates and White House lawyers bring him cases. 

Emily Tillett contributed reporting. 

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