Bernie Madoff had some of his toes amputated, was missing eight teeth and wildly hallucinated before he died from kidney disease, a new report says.
The notorious 82-year-old con from New York City was serving a 150-year sentence for his $65 billion Ponzi scheme when he reportedly refused dialysis and died April 14 at a federal prison hospital in Butner, NC.
About a week before he succumbed, the reviled former financier screamed for assistance, and when a nurse responded, he stared at the floor, wiggled his left foot and yelled, “Help! I hate this f–king place!,” according to Market Watch.
Madoff’s fourth toe on the foot, and one of the toes next to it, had to be amputated because of gangrene, the site said.
The nurse told Madoff to stop yelling because he was disturbing other inmates, prompting him to reportedly reply: “F–k them!”
The medical worker then told Madoff to stop cursing and asked what happened, the site said, citing prison medical records.
“I gave them a pass, and no one is respecting me or doing anything! I can’t believe they are doing this to me!” the confused and agitated man replied, although he couldn’t explain whom he was referring to, according to the outlet.
The ailing scammer then stopped answering questions, burying his face in his hands as he sat on his bed, according to Market Watch, which obtained more than 4,000 pages of medical records from the Bureau of Prisons in response to a Freedom of Information request.
He also previously thought he saw a bird in a guard’s pocket and people lurking in his room at night, the documents show.
Madoff spent the final 17 months of his life in hospice care as he died of kidney failure, according to the report.
He also suffered from severe coronary artery disease, which left him gasping for air during short walks, and in 2020 developed gangrene on the fourth toe of his left foot, the records show, according to Market Watch. To prevent the gangrene from spreading, he had the two toes amputated, the outlet reported.
Madoff received low doses of methadone for pain, relied on oxygen tanks, used a wheelchair and underwent dialysis three times a week, although he often cut treatment short or refused it altogether because he found it too debilitating, according to the report.
He also had lost eight of his teeth and was considered a “high fall risk,” records show.
Because of his failing health, Madoff was among the first people in the US to be vaccinated against COVID-19 — getting his first Pfizer jab Dec. 18, 2020, just a week after the immunization was approved for emergency use by the US Food and Drug Administration, the outlet said. He received his second dose Jan. 9.
Madoff began applying for an early release in the middle of 2019 based on his terminal illness, telling prison officials he planned to move to Baltimore and undergo treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the records show.
He told a social worker “he has several people [redacted] that can assist and some who are ‘indebted’ to him,” according to the files cited by Market Watch.
Madoff’s application was blocked more than once by the warden and prison’s general counsel on the grounds that his crime had been too great and that he declined to undergo dialysis behind bars, the outlet reported.
But health workers eventually said Madoff met the criteria for compassionate release, and the warden agreed to submit the request to a judge, even though the top prison official was not recommending the move.
In June 2020, Judge Denny Chin rejected the request, saying he believed that “Mr. Madoff was never truly remorseful, and that he was only sorry that his life as he knew it was collapsing around him.”
Madoff later appealed to the warden again in a handwritten note, claiming he was at high risk due to the pandemic and in danger of losing his foot to gangrene, but the warden turned him down again, Market Watch reported, citing a letter in the file.
Madoff’s lawyer, Brandon Sample, said officials reviewing Madoff’s petition were well aware of the details about his declining health.
“It was well documented that Mr. Madoff was aged and sick. The BOP, the government, and Madoff’s sentencing judge were all aware of the same,” Sample told Market Watch in a statement.
“Nonetheless, his declining health was insufficient for the judge to show Madoff a bit of mercy. That remains the real story here. There is no point to compassionate release if there is no compassion,” he added.
Madoff’s medical records also showed that he underwent hundreds of doctor’s appointments and tests by cardiologists, nephrologists, psychiatrists, dentists and eye doctors during his time in the slammer.
But he was a difficult patient, regularly refusing treatments, skipping appointments and stopping and starting his meds, according to the records.
Madoff also reportedly declined to undergoing kidney dialysis for years, despite what his doctors urged, and only began treatments after his case was considered terminal in 2019, the report said. He also refused a recommendation to seek a kidney transplant.
Madoff had been treated for mental health issues, including by being put on Prozac and Celexa for depression and anxiety, respectively, according to the records.
“I never sleep and am always tired,” he was quoted as telling a doctor, according to Market Watch, which reported that he also received trazadone to help him with his anxiety and to get some sleep.
In late 2009, Madoff suffered intracranial bleeding, a broken nose, a fractured rib and a cut above his eye when he fainted and struck his head on a water fountain, the report said.
He was unable to explain what had happened, so prison guards thought he had been attacked. But Madoff later explained that he had gotten dizzy after he stopped taking his blood pressure medication because he thought it made him itch, the records show.
In 2013, he underwent an angioplasty after suffering a small heart attack. The following year, he underwent surgery to remove part of his enlarged prostate, which had caused him trouble with urinating. He underwent another angioplasty in 2020, according to the records.
Madoff experienced hallucinations as his mental state declined in his final weeks, the records said.
Just before he had his toes removed March 23, he said he saw people in his room at night. Surgeons also decided not to perform a heart-valve replacement that day because they didn’t think he would survive the operation.
Madoff later told a corrections officer he saw a bird in the guard’s jacket pocket, admitted “feeling crazy” and said that nothing mattered anymore, the records show.
Two days before his death, Madoff — who had signed a do-not-resuscitate order — fell out of his bed and was found on the floor of his cell.
Doctors wrote that he appeared to have reached the “terminal cliff” and switched Madoff to a morphine drip. They moved him to a room closer to the nurse’s station, and he died at 3:10 a.m. April 14 of end-stage renal failure, the records say.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Prisons declined to comment to Market Watch about Madoff’s treatment.