Colton Underwood Coming Out Sparks Production Talks ... Time for a Gay 'Bachelor'???

Colton Underwood's coming out story is not only going to be covered in a new reality show ... it may inspire a major change in the reality show that made him famous.

'Bachelor' production sources tell TMZ ... Colton's been getting a lot of support not just from former cast members and Chris Harrison, but also from many producers of the popular dating series.

We're told a number of producers were moved by Colton's revelation, and they've informally talked over the last few days amongst themselves about a gay 'Bachelor' season.

ACCEPTING MYSELF
ABC

Our sources say the bigwigs on the show haven't weighed in and there has been no formal discussion, but creative ideas for TV shows typically begin with shop talk among producers and other staff, and that's happening now.

We have no idea whether Colton would be interested, but we do know this ... there's a lot of love for him in the production offices of the show. We're told many people on staff cheered Colton as he revealed to Robin Roberts he's hidden the fact he's gay for most of his life.

Colton is not under contract with "The Bachelor" anymore. We're told he booked the interview on his own and chose Robin because he's appeared with her in the past and felt comfortable with her. Nevertheless, we're told Colton called producers the night before his interview aired and gave them the heads up.

We broke the story ... Colton's been filming the past few weeks with a Netflix crew for a new reality series chronicling his journey as a newly out gay man.

Netflix does dating shows too, so ... just sayin'.

Jacob Blake's Family Pissed Over Cop's Return Atty. Wants Reform, Not Just Protest

The cop who shot Jacob Blake seven times is back on the job -- something JB's family can't comprehend ... but also something that won't get fixed with protesting alone ... so says Jacob's lawyer.

B'Ivory LaMarr, who's repping Jacob and his family, tells us the Blakes are incredibly disappointed that Officer Rusten Sheskey rejoined the Kenosha PD without punishment.

ICYMI ... KPD announced Tuesday Sheskey had been cleared of wrongdoing after an internal affairs investigation and several outside investigations as well. The conclusions were that the officer broke no laws and violated no police policy regarding use of force.

As such, they say he's gonna get back to work and not face any further discipline -- with the Chief going on to say this ... "I know that some will not be pleased with the outcome; however, given the facts, the only lawful and appropriate decision was made."

8/23/20
SHOCKING AND BRUTAL
Raysean White via TMX.news

That's certainly not how the Blake family sees it ... especially Jacob's uncle, Justin, who ominously told us Kenosha's crazy if they think Officer Sheskey's going to be allowed back onto the streets, or to patrol in Black neighborhoods -- saying "we" aren't going to stand by and let it happen.

Unclear exactly what he meant, but he also believes all the local agencies involved in investigating Sheskey are complicit ... insisting the cop would have been charged if the DOJ had gotten involved on a civil rights level. Remember, Sheskey's shots left Jacob paralyzed from the waist down.

9/5/20
JACOB'S MESSAGE
@money_mike_la/Instagram

There's also this note from Jacob's attorney, B'Ivory, who says as disheartening as it is to see this result come to pass -- and in light of yet another officer-involved shooting in Minnesota -- more protesting alone will NOT solve the issue of police brutality and social justice.

B'Ivory tells us that instead of just taking to the streets, folks need to start pushing for reform ... both locally and on a national level, as he says that's the only way to truly affect the change he and everyone else wants right now.

TEMPERS FLARE
Newsflare/Storyful

Of course, there have been numerous demonstrations in Brooklyn Center after Daunte Wright was shot and killed by ex-cop Kim Potter ... with protesters clashing with police for 3 straight nights now. Speaking of Wright, we're told the Blake family sends his family their condolences.

Coincidentally, there actually IS federal legislation addressing this precise issue -- the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act ... which is currently winding its way through Congress. If passed, it would implement sweeping changes on policing in this country at the federal level, and would become the new standard for states to adopt as well.

Foster Dog Stabbed and Beaten for Revenge ... Animal Control on the Case

Some poor excuse for a human performed a savage act on a foster dog ... stabbing and beating it purely out of vengeance, and now others are mobilizing to save the dog and find the scumbags who left it for dead.

Kari Whitman, the founder of the dog rescue org Ace of Hearts, tells TMZ ... a 9-year-old Dogo Argentino mix named Brodie had been under foster care in California City, about 2 hours northeast of L.A.

We're told late Tuesday night ... the foster mom, who had been living with her sister, got into an argument with her sister and at some point, Brodie was left in the yard of the home.

Sadly, when the foster mom returned she found Brodie with a stab wound down his spine, a broken leg and his hip was shattered in 4 places. Poor Brodie had previously been at a high-kill shelter before being rescued by Ace of Hearts ... and at this point, it's unclear who took out their anger on him.

However, the foster mom believes one of her sister's friends may have done it to get back at the foster mom for the argument.

Either way ... Brodie was taken to a local vet and later transferred to ACCESS Specialty Animal Hospitals in the San Fernando Valley. We're told he's currently fighting for his life there ... and sadly, may never walk again because he suffered major nerve damage.

Kari, whose org had been caring for Brodie before he went into the foster home, tells us anyone who wants to help Brodie can call ACCESS directly and donate.

As for the alleged perpetrators ... law enforcement sources tell TMZ animal control has taken a report and opened an investigation, and it's also been in touch with cops in California City.

'Bachelorette' Alum Michael G. Sues Over Maskless Security Guard Attack

'Bachelorette' alum Michael Garofola claims he was on the receiving end of an anti-Semitic attack from a maskless security guard in his own apartment complex ... and now he's suing.

According to the lawsuit, obtained by TMZ, Michael claims his simple plea to a security guard to wear a mask indoors during the pandemic turned into an anti-Semitic diatribe and parking garage beatdown.

In the docs, Michael says he was trying to get to his car back in January when he encountered the maskless security guard. Michael says the guard responded to his request to put on a face-covering by spewing anti-Semitic comments and attacking him.

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CHASED DOWN

The season 9 'Bachelorette' alum claims the security guard punched him in the head, slammed him into a wall, pushed and shoved him around and smashed up his iPhone while he tried to record the attack.

In the docs, Michael claims he suffered a ton of injuries in the attack, including cuts to his hand, a torn calf and injuries to his back. He says he's still scarred and is getting physical therapy.

As we first reported ... cops arrested the security guard back in February, charging him with felony battery and felony vandalism.

Michael, who also appeared on "Bachelor in Paradise" and "The Bachelor Winter Games," claims the security guard never should have been hired because the guy's social media is littered with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. He also claims he had previously notified management the guard wasn't wearing a mask, but believes they didn't take any action.

MG's suing the security guard, his Marina del Rey apartment complex and the guard's employer.

We reached out to the security guard and the apartment complex ... so far no word back.

Bryce Hall I'm Gonna Buy My Mom A House!!! After I K.O. Austin McBroom

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MOMMA'S BOY
TMZSports.com

TikTok star Bryce Hall has a truly adorable reason for wanting to beat the living hell out of YouTuber Austin McBroom in their upcoming boxing match ... saying if he comes out with a K.O., he's getting his mom a new house!!!

Of course, more Internet superstars are following Logan and Jake Paul's lead into the ring ... with 21-year-old Hall and McBroom, 28, headlining the "YouTubers vs. TikTokers" card on June 12.

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Hall tells TMZ Sports he's SERIOUSLY cashing in on the event ... doubling down on his claim he's really going to make $5 million just to enter the ring.

On top of that, Hall -- who has 19.6 million followers on TikTok -- says he's going to get another $1 MILLION bonus if he's able to knock out the former college basketball player ... and that money would go to a great cause.

"That's like, my mom's house right there," Hall told us outside Toast in L.A. I'm gonna buy my mom a house right after the fight. And, that knockout is my mom's house ... that's how much it means to me."

Hall shows us how serious he is by displaying some of his moves ... and even lets a random dude on the street punch him in the stomach!!

There's more -- we also talked to Bryce and his buddy Tayler Holder about Jake's fight against Ben Askren this weekend ... and they think it's gonna be a BAD night for the ex-UFC star.

Guess Who This Smirking Sweetie Turned Into!

Before this pipsqueak in pink was singing her heart out in high school, she was just another smirking sweetheart showing off for the camera in Salinas, California.

This charismatic cutie started something new when she stepped into the spotlight of the Disney channel stage as the musical lead in a popular franchise. Later, this lovable lady broke free from her high school persona with a role in a star-studded crime drama featuring a pop princess with a similar origin story.

Now, you can catch this actress switching it up in some holiday-themed Netflix original films.

Can you guess who she is?

U.S. Army Sgt. Arrested Aggressively Confronts Black Man ... Passing Through His neighborhood

Exclusive Details
"YOU'RE IN THE WRONG NEIGHBORHOOD"

A white man who is a U.S. Army sergeant saw a Black man he didn't recognize strolling through his neighborhood, and decided to get in his face about it ... but we've learned the sergeant's been arrested over the incident.

42-year-old Jonathan Pentland -- reportedly based at Fort Jackson in Columbia, SC -- was recorded aggressively confronting the young Black man, and even shoving him around in the suburb of Summit Monday evening.

The Black guy kept his cool, and said he was just passing through ... doing nothing else but walking. Pentland and others recording the altercation continued to press him -- accusing him of lingering around their home and surrounding streets for 15 minutes.

As for what triggered this altercation ... the Richland County Sheriff's Office says calls initially came in describing an altercation going down. Once officers arrived and did a preliminary investigation, RCSO says they learned the alleged victim here was supposedly going around and approaching different neighbors in what they described as a threatening manner. Eventually, they say someone asked Pentland to step in ... and things picked up there.

RCSO notes that when officers first responded, they were not aware of nor did they see this video. However, after the clip eventually went viral ... the agency says they passed their findings to a judge, who found sufficient evidence to bring Pentland in on an arrest warrant.

The Sheriff's Office also says this of the alleged victim ... he apparently has an underlying medical condition that might've affected his behavior that day, and the authorities are working to get him the help he needs, while trying to keep him out of the criminal justice system.

The young man claimed to live near this area ... but no word yet if that's, in fact, the case.

In any event, Pentland ended up getting arrested early Wednesday morning over the altercation. We've confirmed he was booked on assault and battery charges. It's unclear if he's still in custody.

Fort Jackson officials also commented on the widely-circulated video, saying ... "This type of behavior is not consistent with our Army values and will not be condoned. We have begun our own investigation and are working with the local authorities."

DAUNTE WRIGHT KILLING Ex-Cop Charged With Manslaughter ... Released From Jail on $100k Bond

4:52 PM PT -- Potter has been released from the Hennepin County jail after posting a $100,000 bond.

12:29 PM PT -- Prosecutors just charged Potter with second-degree manslaughter in Wright's shooting death.

According to the criminal complaint, during the fatal interaction with Wright, Potter pulled out her Glock 9mm handgun with her right hand and pointed it at Wright while saying she would tase him.

The complaint says Potter said "Taser, Taser, Taser" and pulled the trigger on her handgun, firing one fatal round into Wright's left side.

According to the complaint, an investigator from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension examined Potter’s duty belt and noted her handgun is holstered on the right side of the belt and her Taser is holstered on the left side of the belt in a straight-draw position, meaning she would have to use her left hand to pull the Taser out from the holster.

11:17 AM PT -- Potter was just booked into Hennepin County Jail, where she's being held without bail ... jail records show. She also posed for a mug shot.

As you can see, Potter's home in Champlin, MN is already being protected with a chain link fence and concrete barriers blocking the property.

Kim Potter, the Brooklyn Center police officer who fatally shot Daunte Wright and then resigned, has just been arrested ... and she's about to booked into jail and charged in his death.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension announced Wednesday agents took Potter into custody around 11:30 AM CT at the BCA in St. Paul.

The BCA says Potter will be booked into the Hennepin County Jail on probable cause for second-degree manslaughter ... and Washington County prosecutors will soon file charges.

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SHOT POINT-BLANK
Brooklyn Center Police

As you know ... 20-year-old Wright was shot and killed by Potter Sunday afternoon in a Minneapolis suburb, sparking massive protests and riots. Potter's body cam footage shows her yelling "Taser" as she's holding her handgun, and she fires one deadly round. You also hear Potter on body cam saying, "S***, I just shot him."

Police were trying to take Wright into custody during a traffic stop, after learning he had an outstanding warrant.

As we reported ... Potter resigned from the police force Tuesday, effective immediately.

In a letter to Mayor Mike Elliott, Acting City Manager Reggie Edwards and Police Chief Tim Gannon, who later resigned, Potter said ... "I have loved every minute of being a police officer and serving this community to the best of my ability, but I believe it is in the best interest of the community, the department, and my fellow officers if I resign immediately."

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DEMANDING JUSTICE
PBS

Wright's family has retained civil rights attorney Ben Crump, and loved ones openly wept and called for justice Tuesday during a super emotional news conference.

The BCA also says there is an active investigation into the fatal shooting.

Originally published -- 10:09 AM PT

Jay Cutler, Kristin Cavallari Ex-Couple Sued ... Your Dog Chomped My Thumb!!!

Jay Cutler and Kristin Cavallari let their dangerous dog roam free when the cable guy came by for an install, and it allegedly took a bite out of his hand.

According to a lawsuit the cable guy, Nathan Beam, filed ... the exes are still the co-owners of 2 German Shepherds who were unrestrained at a Tennessee home in June 2020 when Nathan was there for the hookup.

Beam claims he completed the install and was ready to leave when one of the dogs -- he believes its name is Kona -- was in front of the driver's side door of his truck.

According to Beam ... as he bent over to pick up something off the ground, the dog bit him on his left thumb and fingernail and clamped down for several seconds.

He claims he did nothing to harass the dog, and afterward ... Cavallari's assistant came out, gave him a paper towel, and allegedly told him to leave immediately.

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Beam's blaming Jay and Kristin for failing to keep reasonable control of their dogs while he was there, and also claims they knew the canines were dangerous ... based on old social media posts where she refers to the younger one, allegedly Kona, as a "#TrainedKiller."

He's suing for damages, claiming he suffered physical injuries and disfigurement along with mental anguish, and has lost wages because of the alleged dog bite.

A rep for Kristin had no comment. We reached out to Jay as well ... so far, no word back.

Elderly OKC Woman Cops Disrespected My Home ... I Feel So Violated

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DISRESPECTED IN MY OWN HOME
TMZ.com

The elderly OKC woman who is suing cops for breaking her arm says it's going to take her a long time to recover from the violent incident in her own home ... an ordeal that, 7 months later, still makes her tear up.

Ruby Jones and her lawyer, Damario Solomon-Simmons, were on "TMZ Live" Wednesday and the 74-year-old described the moment OKC officers entered her home ... even though Ruby claims they failed to produce a warrant to do so. She went through each painful moment of the August, 2020 interaction ... including when she alleges they broke her arm.

As disturbing as the video is, Ruby claims there was even more abuse, and says it felt like the cops simply didn't care about the pain she was experiencing.

EXCESSIVE & EXTREME FORCE

As we reported ... Ruby's suing the OKC PD, the 3 officers involved and the City of Oklahoma claiming she suffered a broken right arm due to the officers' "use of excessive force" when they came to arrest her mentally ill son, Chauncey.

And, get this ... Solomon-Simmons claims Ruby was detained in the back of a squad car for about an hour -- however, she was never charged for any wrongdoing.

He credits Ruby for saving her son's life, but adds her case is one of several just this week that show if you're Black in America, some cops use that as an excuse to treat citizens with violence. He pointed to the Army Lt. who was pepper-sprayed 4 times during a traffic stop as another prime example.

Ruby and her attorney say the officers who detained her so roughly have faced no discipline from OKC PD.

Colton Underwood Tayshia & Hannah Voice Support ... 'Bachelor' Runners-Up Happy for Him!!!

There are no hard feelings coming from the 2 women who came up just short of receiving the final rose from Colton Underwood ... they're both fully in his corner.

As 'Bachelor' fans will recall ... Hannah Godwin and Tayshia Adams finished as co-runners-up in Colton's season, and both are voicing support for the former target of their affections now that he's come out as gay.

Hannah tells TMZ ... "I support Colton for having the courage to finally be able to live his life authentically. Nobody should have to hide from who they really are." She adds ... "I’ll always wish Colton the very best and hoping he has found his peace."

A rep for Tayshia tells us she's very happy that Colton's "able to now live his life openly and without fear of being his true self," adding ... "There is absolutely no ill will -- only support for Colton, his willingness to share his truth, and the additional representation for the LGBTQ community."

Colton revealed he's gay Wednesday morning on GMA, telling Robin Roberts he struggled with his sexuality for years, but is taking control of his life now.

TMZ also learned his journey as a newly "out" gay man is being chronicled as a reality series for Netflix.

BTW -- Tayshia and Hannah have been doing great since departing from Colton's season, as well. Tayshia went on to become "The Bachelorette" and is engaged to Zac Clark. She's also co-hosting the next 'Bacherette' season -- which is currently filming -- after replacing Chris Harrison.

Hannah has moved on to become a very popular social media influencer, and is also engaged.

Britt Reid Car Crash Injured 5-Year-Old Out Of Hospital ... But Still Ailing

The 5-year-old girl who was badly injured in the Britt Reid car crash in February is now out of the hospital ... but her family says she still has a long road to full recovery.

Ariel Young suffered catastrophic injuries after Reid -- a former K.C. Chiefs assistant coach and Andy Reid's son -- allegedly slammed his pickup truck into the back of a vehicle she was in on Feb. 4 in Kansas City.

Investigators say Young's brain was hurt badly ... adding she suffered a skull fracture and subdural hematomas, among other ailments, as well.

Young had been in the hospital since the accident trying to recover ... but her family said Tuesday she was taken home this week.

"Ariel is at home recovering," the family said in a statement, "we hope that her being in a familiar place will help her remember things."

"She is doing physical therapy but as of right now she still cannot walk, talk or eat like a normal 5 year old. Thank you everyone for your continued support."

35-year-old Britt was charged with one count of felony DWI on Monday over the wreck ... after officials say he had .113 BAC when measured around 2 hours after the crash.

Investigators also said Britt was going 83.9 MPH in a 65 MPH just seconds before the collision.

Britt surrendered to authorities and took a mug shot shortly after prosecutors announced the charge on Monday.

If convicted, Britt is facing up to 7 years behind bars.

Colton Underwood Reality TV Star Again ... Netflix Series About Coming Out

9:49 AM PT -- We just got Colton out in NYC, and his face really does say it all, you can see the happiness.

HAPPIER THAN EVER
TMZ.com

Colton Underwood coming out as gay comes with a TV deal ... his new journey's being shot for a reality series.

TMZ has learned the former 'Bachelor' star has had a film crew following him for the past few weeks, and the show -- focusing on his life as a gay man -- will air on Netflix.

We're told several other prominent members of the LBGTQ+ community have been in Colton's corner throughout this process -- such as his friend, Olympian Gus Kenworthy -- and will make appearances alongside him in the series.

ACCEPTING MYSELF
ABC

As we reported ... Underwood opened up about his sexuality, revealing he's gay to Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America."

He said ... "I've ran from myself for a long time. I've hated myself for a long time ... and I'm gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know."

Colton says his struggle with being gay got so bad that he contemplated suicide, but fortunately he had an epiphany ... and decided to take control of his life.

We reached out to Colton's rep ... so far, no word back.

Originally Published -- 8:01 AM PT

Colton Underwood 'Bachelor' Star Reveals ... I'm Gay

Breaking News
ACCEPTING MYSELF
ABC

8:21 AM PT -- Chris Harrison says he's very proud of Colton. He adds ... "Happy to see you stand up and openly live your truth. You have my love and support my friend."

Colton Underwood -- former star of "The Bachelor" is opening up about his sexuality ... telling the world he's gay.

Colton opened up to Robin Roberts on "Good Morning America" saying ... "I've ran from myself for a long time. I've hated myself for a long time ... and I'm gay. And I came to terms with that earlier this year and have been processing it. And the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know."

Underwood added, "I got into a place for me in my personal life that was dark and bad and I can list a bunch of different things but they'd all be excuses ... I would have rather died than say I'm gay and I think that was sort of my wake-up call."

Colton said it was so bad he thought of taking his life ... "There was a moment in L.A. where I woke up and I didn't think I was going to wake up. I didn't have the intention of waking up and I did. And I think for me that was my wake-up call ... this is your life, take back control."

As 'Bachelor' fans know ... Colton's virginity became a hot topic when he appeared on Becca Kufrin's season of "The Bachelorette" in 2018. Of course, this storyline continued when he became the 'Bachelor' for Season 23 ... but there was a lot more drama than that.

Colton notoriously jumped a gate during filming in the middle of his season and threatened to leave the show, but ultimately decided to return. He wound up choosing Cassie Randolph, though the 2 never got engaged and -- as we reported -- had a very messy breakup.

In his GMA interview, Colton said he was sorry for how things ended with Cassie, and that he truly loved everything about her, which made things more difficult. He says he remembers thanking God once he was picked as 'The Bachelor' because he believed his prayers to be straight had been answered.

"I'M SORRY"
ABC

Also worth noting -- Colton stated in his March 2020 memoir, "The First Time," his time on "The Bachelor" actually helped him realize he WASN'T gay. He said he questioned his sexuality in his early 20s ... the result of being bullied growing up. The bullies said he was gay, and he says he believed it.

Originally published -- 4:47 AM PT

Conor McGregor Off the Hook In Sexual Assault Probe ... Corsica Officials Confirm

11:23 AM PT -- Conor's rep, Karen Kessler, tells TMZ Sports, "They [French authorities] did a criminal investigation. They collected DNA and the DNA evidence confirmed McGregor's account."

Conor McGregor will NOT be charged with a crime stemming from an alleged attempted sexual assault in Corsica -- officials confirm the case has been dropped due to lack of evidence.

As we previously reported, McGregor was detained by police on the French island of Corsica back in Sept. 2020 -- after a woman claimed the UFC superstar committed acts described as "attempted sexual assault and sexual exhibition."

Conor had denied wrongdoing from the start -- and he was released from custody without being formally arrested or charged with a crime.

Now, TMZ Sports has learned prosecutors in the City of Bastia have sent McGregor a letter explaining that after an investigation, they didn't find enough evidence to move forward with a case against him.

The document was sent in French -- but the translation reads this way:

"The examination of the present proceedings does not justify any criminal prosecution since:

-- The facts or the circumstances of the facts of the proceedings could not have been clearly established by the investigations.

-- The pieces of evidence are therefore not sufficient for the offense to be constituted and for criminal prosecution to be engaged."

McGregor had railed on his accuser in a social media post in the days after the allegation was levied against him -- calling her claims "bulls**t" and vowing to never pay a dime to "anyone coming at me with vicious lies."

Originally Published -- 10:30 AM PT

Bernie Madoff Ponzi Scheme Mastermind ... Dead at 82

7:26 AM PT -- Madoff's attorney, Brandon Sample, tells TMZ ... "Last year Bernie Madoff asked his sentencing court to grant him compassionate release so he could die at home with his remaining friends and family. At the time, Bernie had a life expectancy of less than 18 months. Bernie’s sentencing judge denied that request, despite Bernie’s terminal kidney disease and expressed remorse for his crimes."

He adds, "Today, Bernie Madoff passed away at the age of 82. Bernie, up until his death, lived with guilt and remorse for his crimes. Although the crimes Bernie was convicted of have come to define who he was—he was also a father and a husband. He was soft spoken and an intellectual. Bernie was by no means perfect. But no man is."

Bernie Madoff -- the one-time Wall Street financial adviser turned massive convicted fraudster -- died in prison ... TMZ has confirmed.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons -- the agency that oversaw Madoff while behind bars -- says he passed Wednesday while in custody at a federal facility in North Carolina. Federal law enforcement sources confirm Madoff died of natural causes and said it was not covid-19 related.

The man had been serving a 150-year sentence following his 2009 criminal case and subsequent conviction. Last year, he'd complained of health issues that he claimed were costing him his life ... specifically, Madoff said he was experiencing terminal kidney failure.

A judge shot down Madoff's request to be sprung from prison early, even under compassionate release grounds that Madoff was trying to invoke in his filing.

Of course, his lifetime sentence was imposed after a long-running Ponzi scheme he'd been operating for years finally came to light in late 2008 ... this after he'd lost billions of dollars from investors he'd swindled over several years, and the feds caught wind of the operation.

The scheme itself is quite complex -- but it essentially boiled down to Madoff taking cash (A LOT of it, BTW) from thousands of investors, via his securities firm, and depositing that money into a bank account ... which he ultimately used to pay off other investors.

He passed his investment strategy off as legit, and on the surface ... appeared to be making steady gains. But, upon a deeper dive, it was clear Madoff's numbers just weren't adding up -- something he was able to cloak for quite a long time ... that is, until the 2008 market downturn, which bulldozed his house of cards -- as he simply didn't have the funds a lot of his partners were asking for (and assuming he had at the ready).  Many people who trusted Madoff lost their life savings.

Madoff ended up pleading guilty to 11 federal felony counts -- including securities fraud, wire fraud and a whole lot more ... but the fact he played ball from the outset didn't help him much in the way of leniency. He got the book thrown at him with a massive sentence, plus a requirement to forfeit billions of dollars in assets he and his family held.

The Madoff Victim Fund was established not too long after his conviction -- and has racked up just a fraction of the money owed to investors, less than $3 billion among tens of thousands of investors.

Madoff's downfall has been depicted and covered in countless TV shows, movies and documentaries -- but most recently, a full-blown TV biopic of sorts was made with Robert De Niro playing Madoff, which was dubbed "Wizard of Lies." It premiered on HBO in 2017.

Madoff was 82.

Originally Published -- 7:10 AM PT

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