Bernard Madoff, who defrauded investors of more than $19 billion in history’s biggest Ponzi scheme, has asked for early release from his 150-year prison sentence, saying he has 18 months left to live.

Madoff, 81, asked U.S. Circuit Judge Denny Chin to release him after serving just 10 years, saying he suffers from terminal kidney failure and other ailments.

His lawyer, Brandon Sample, said in a court filing Madoff has “chronic kidney failure that has progressed to end-stage renal disease.” Madoff also suffers from other conditions, including heart disease, high blood pressure, esophageal reflux, insomnia, shortness of breath, back pain, itching, leg cramps and anxiety, according to the filing.

“Madoff humbly asks this court for a modicum of compassion,” Sample said in papers filed in Manhattan federal court Wednesday.

Early release for Madoff could outrage many of his victims. Investors lost $19 billion in principal when Madoff’s securities firm collapsed in December 2008. His victims included thousands of wealthy investors, Jewish charities, celebrities and retirees.

“He showed no remorse whatsoever for what he did, so why should we?” asked Gregg Felsen, a Madoff victim who lives in Palm Springs, California. “His crime was horrendous.”

Ebbers Released

If granted, an order freeing Madoff would come on the heels of one granted to former WorldCom Inc. chief executive officer Bernard Ebbers in December for medical reasons. Ebbers, who was convicted in 2005 of securities fraud following WorldCom’s collapse, served more than 13 years of a 25-year sentence. He died on Feb. 2 at age 78.

Madoff built a reputation over three decades as a brilliant stock-picker who delivered uncannily steady returns in good markets and bad. But his results were largely fictitious, and he told his family in December 2009 that the business was “all just one big lie.” Madoff’s two sons turned him in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. One of his sons later committed suicide while the other died of cancer.

The scheme unraveled in 2008 when the economic crisis led to more withdrawals than Madoff could afford to pay out. Some clients learned they lost their life savings after Madoff’s confession and arrest on Dec. 11 of that year.

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