Madoff leaves Atlanta penitentiary, prison official says

Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, sentenced to 150 years in prison for running a massive Ponzi scheme, has left a federal prison in Atlanta where he was this morning, a prison official said Tuesday.

The U.S. Bureau of Prisons reported on its website that the 71-year-old Madoff was in the medium-security, United States Penitentiary Atlanta.

Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Linda Thomas said Madoff has left the penitentiary in Atlanta. He arrived there Monday.

Thomas would not say where Madoff is headed.

The Bureau of Prisons, citing security reasons, said its policy is not to confirm the location of recently sentenced inmates until they arrive at the facility at which they have been assigned to serve their terms.

Based on an account by the Associated Press, USA TODAY had reported earlier today that Madoff would ultimately serve his sentence — which virtually guarantees he'll die behind bars — at a federal prison in Butner, N.C.

Madoff, arrested in December as his scam collapsed, had been held since March at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan, not far from the Ground Zero site of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.

Madoff is among the most reviled financial criminals in modern history after running a decades-long scam that bilked thousands of clients worldwide out of billions of dollars by using money from new investors to pay older ones.

Under federal regulations, the lengthy prison term Madoff received at his June 29 sentencing made him ineligible for placement in a minimum-security prison.

Madoff's lead defense attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, declined to comment on his client's prison assignment Monday, saying, "We have not been advised yet."

At the sentencing hearing, Sorkin had asked U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to recommend that Madoff be sent to a federal prison in Otisville, N.Y., roughly 60 miles north of the onetime Nasdaq chairman's former Manhattan home.

Chin said he would recommend that Madoff go to a prison in the Northeast. But the judge stressed that the final decision was up to federal prison system officials.