Reports Of Madoff’s Impending Death Greatly Exaggerated?

Aug 25 2009 | 12:10pm ET

Is convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff stricken with terminal cancer? Not according to his new landlords.

The federal Bureau of Prisons yesterday denied a New York Post report that Madoff is dying of cancer.

“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,” the bureau said in a statement.

The Post yesterday wrote that Madoff has told his fellow inmates at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., that he hasn’t long to live. One inmate said he took about 20 pills a day for his cancer, which wasn’t more specifically identified but was later reported to be pancreatic cancer.

The firmer BOP denial came after a vaguer one simply denouncing the Post story as “inaccurate.” That led Post sister newspaper The Wall Street Journal to check with its own source, who said that while Madoff does have a “serious” form of cancer, he could not confirm that it was life threatening.

It is unclear to this reporter what “serious” form of cancer is not life-threatening (or what form of cancer qualifies as “not serious”), but if the feds are to be believed, it is the kind of cancer that is not, in fact, cancer. Unless it’s simply cancer that has gone undiagnosed by prison doctors.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty earlier this year to charges that he ran a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. The Post speculated that a terminal diagnosis might explain why he pleaded guilty rather than cut a deal and name his accomplices.

The Post story also offered some interesting insights into Madoff’s prison life, such as his participation in Native American religious rituals and that he is hanging out with the “homosexual posse.” It is unclear which of these detail, if any, are among the “inaccuracies” in the tabloid’s report.

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