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Does Bernie Madoff Have Cancer?

Two New York newspapers say convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff is dying of cancer but the U.S. Bureau of Prisons has strongly denied the claims.

Under the headline "Bernie's Cancer Cell," the New York Post reported Monday morning that Madoff, who confessed to swindling investors out of as much as $50 billion, wrote: "Bernie Madoff had little to lose by confessing to masterminding the world's biggest Ponzi scheme -- he's dying of cancer, sources told The Post."

The story goes on to say that Madoff, 71, serving 150 years at a North Carolina federal prison, has been telling fellow inmates he doesn't have long to live.

"He's been taking about 20 pills a day for his cancer," said one inmate, quoted anonymously by the Post. "He talks about it all the time. He's not doing very well." (The Post story also had some colorful details, such as reporting that Madoff is participating in American Indian purification rituals and is being recruited by gang members.)

Later in the day, the Wall Street Journal reported that it had confirmed the Post's story.

But then after that, the Bureau of Prisons released this statement:

"While the NY Post story is full of inaccuracies, and we can’t specifically address all of them, we can tell you that Bernie Madoff is not terminally ill, and has not been diagnosed with cancer."

In a previous life, The Ticker had some experiencing interviewing prisoners. Though there are inmates who turn their lives around in prison, let's just say that convicted felons are not the most reliable of sources.

And neither is Madoff, who lived one massive and harmful lie most of his adult life.

Where ever the truth lies, the stories have served to renew speculation about why Madoff has stonewalled federal prosecutors seeking to reclaim the billions he stole. In the meantime, the feds are cracking down on Madoff co-conspirators, so even if he succeeds in thwarting the recovery efforts, he may not be the only one who knows where the money is hidden.

-- Frank Ahrens

By Frank Ahrens  |  August 24, 2009; 2:46 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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"You track the money going backward," says Mr. Kessler. There's a whole lot of backtracking to do. You can't hide all that dirty money forever. The only thing that is true where truth lies is love and that keeps going forward forever. Keep the future tracking. Journalists should help find some of the money which always helps the victims and Lord knows the victims can use all the help they can get.

Posted by: Dermitt | August 24, 2009 4:14 PM | Report abuse

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