Bernard Madoff is led out from Federal court on Mar. 10, 2009 in New York (Photo: Jin Lee/Bloomberg News)

Bernard Madoff asked President Donald Trump to shorten his 150-year prison sentence, effectively asking to be released.

Madoff, who pleaded guilty a decade ago to running the largest Ponzi scheme in history, filed the request with the Department of Justice’s Office of the Pardon Attorney. Investors lost about $20 billion in principal.

Madoff, 81, is asking for a reduced sentence rather than a pardon. It couldn’t immediately be determined when the request was filed; the status was listed as pending.

He is being held at the federal prison medical facility in Butner, North Carolina, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

“It is hard to imagine a less sympathetic nonviolent offender than Bernard Madoff,” Matthew Schwartz, a former prosecutor in Madoff’s case, said in an email. “His tens of thousands of victims still continue to feel the profound and devastating harm from his decades-long fraud to this day. The president can surely find more deserving recipients of his commutation power.”

CNBC reported Madoff’s request earlier on Wednesday.

Five former aides to Madoff were also found guilty for their role in the scheme that defrauded investors, charities and retirees, and sent to prison.

Madoff pleaded guilty just months after he was arrested. But in a disposition in 2017, he said “the biggest mistake I made was not going to trial.”

While serving his sentence, Madoff went as far as partly blaming his earliest and richest investors for forcing him into crime to meet their demands for high returns. He has said in other depositions that he was a legitimate securities broker for decades.

Irving Picard, the trustee appointed to handle his firm’s dissolution, has recovered more than $13 billion for investors who lost money in the scheme.

–With assistance from Jim Silver and Andrew Harris.

Copyright 2019 Bloomberg. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.