Notorious white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff, who swindled thousands of investors out of billions of dollars, is seeking a commutation of his 150-year sentence from the US president.

Bernie Madoff, the fund manager who swindled thousands of US investors and is now at a federal prison in Butner, North Carolina, has asked for clemency from US President Donald Trump.

According to the listing on the Department of Justice website, Madoff would like a commutation of his sentence of 150 years, which is effectively a life sentence. The fact that he is asking for a commutation and not a pardon means he will still be considered guilty of his crime, but won’t have to be in prison anymore.

Madoff used to run an asset management firm in New York City, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, which was in fact an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

A Ponzi scheme is when you pay ‘profits’ to clients from new investments made by others, without an actual influx of money from investments. It ends when new investors dry up and old investors find out their money is mostly gone.

Madoff’s actions as a white-collar criminal affected thousands of people and lost them billions of dollars.

One of his sons, Mark, committed suicide in 2010, and his other son, Andrew, died of cancer four years later.

Madoff says he feels guilty for Mark’s death. In a 2013 interview from prison, Madoff said he was “responsible for my son Mark’s death and that’s very, very difficult”. Madoff added: “I live with that. I live with the remorse, the pain I caused everybody, certainly my family, and the victims.”

Madoff was arrested in December 2008 and sentenced to 150 years in prison in 2009 for 11 felony charges, including money laundering, perjury and falsifying financial documents.

Now 81, he apparently wants to spend the rest of his life as a free man.

In a 2009 article with US News & World Report that quotes from his book Think Like a Champion, Trump wrote that he had refused to invest in Madoff’s funds: 

He said: "He'd say, 'Why don't you invest in my fund?' I didn't know much about him and I'm not a fund guy so I said no. I had enough going on in my own businesses that I didn't need to be associated or involved with his."

In the same article, Trump is also quoted as calling Madoff names: "He is without a doubt a sleazebag and a scoundrel without par." 

It’s not certain how much Trump’s negative opinion of Madoff has changed in the past 10 years, but prosecutors say Madoff’s chances of getting out are slim to none.

The Justice Department’s website lists 1,003 commutation and 5,657 pardon petitions received during the Trump administration so far. Trump has granted 10 pardons and four commutations.

Vanity Fair details some of the recipients of the 10 pardons, with explanations about their crimes and their pardons.

One of them even wrote a book called Donald J. Trump: A President Like No Other. The author Conrad Black, a millionaire convicted of obstruction of justice and fraud, had this to say about Trump: “The great majority of anti-Trump activity in the first year of his administration was devoted to falsehoods.”

Black further defended Trump, adding that the 45th US president is not “a racist, sexist, warmonger, hothead, promoter of violence, or a foreign or domestic economic warrior”.

Vanity Fair suggests, perhaps a bit facetiously, that Madoff should publish a book that glorifies Trump, in order to increase his chances of getting out of jail.

Source: TRT World