Author Topic: Where Is Bernie Madoff Still a Hero? Prison  (Read 1669 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

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Where Is Bernie Madoff Still a Hero? Prison
« on: June 06, 2010, 07:53:23 pm »
Where Is Bernie Madoff Still a Hero? Prison

AOL News (June 6) -- Bernard Madoff may wear the same standard-issue khakis as the other inmates at North Carolina's Butner Federal Correctional Complex, but to them, he isn't just prisoner No. 61727-054. The $65 billion Ponzi schemer is considered a hero and a celebrity among fellow convicts, solicited for autographs and business advice, New York magazine reports in a feature story on newsstands Monday.

Citing interviews with more than two dozen current and former Butner inmates, writer Steve Fishman describes a brazen Madoff who boasts about his crimes to a gaggle of admiring prison "groupies."

"F--- my victims," Madoff, 71, retorted after being ribbed by a fellow inmate, prison artist K.C. White told the magazine. "I carried them for twenty years, and now I'm doing 150 years."
Mario Tama, Getty Images
Bernard Madoff, shown here leaving court last year, has become something of a celebrity inside the prison in North Carolina where he is serving 150 years for running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
According to the magazine, when another convict told Madoff that stealing from old ladies was "kind of f- - -ed up," Madoff "coolly replied, 'Well, that's what I did.'"

Madoff's attorneys did not respond to AOL News' request for comment on the magazine story.

The inside look at Madoff's life in prison paints him as a titan among the "soft" prisoners, including pedophiles and "rats," in his housing unit at Butner, where there are windows without bars overlooking landscaped yards, one inmate said. According to the feature, Butner inmates trailed Madoff as he walked a gravel track during recreational time and even pressed him for his autograph. He has refused to sign them, the magazine said, because he believes they will end up on eBay and does not want inmates making money off his name. (He made an exception for a prison artist who sketched him.)

"He enjoyed being a celebrity," Nancy Fineman, an attorney who interviewed Madoff shortly after his arrival at Butner.

One prisoner, John Bowler, recalled sitting next to Madoff as both watched a "60 Minutes" segment about Madoff's con.

" 'Bernie, you got 'em for millions,'" Bowler recalled he said to Madoff. "'No, billions,' he told me."

Fishman writes that Madoff's celebrity transcends the traditional prison cliques, as he hangs out with "lifers" as well as black and gay inmates in his cellblock, nicknamed "Camp Fluffy" for its gym, library, pool tables and sweat lodge.

"A hero," lifer Robert Rosso wrote on a website he founded called, New York magazine reported. "He's arguably the greatest con of all time."

The New York report said Madoff is exalted even by Butner's other high-profile prisoners, former mob boss Carmine Persico and former Navy intelligence analyst-turned-spy, Jonathan Pollard. Both men are identified as being part of Madoff's "prison family."

Madoff reportedly impressed his fellow inmates with tales of his world travels and his expensive watch collection, though he now wears a Timex purchased from the Butner commissary for $41. His A-list status prompts convicts who are are aspiring entrepreneurs to solicit business advice from him.

"If I'd lived that well for 70 years, I wouldn't care that I ended up in prison," one told the magazine.

Leaving behind the life of luxury he once led in Manhattan, the magazine says Madoff now subsists on $290 per month, purchasing mac and cheese (60 cents) and cans of Diet Coke (45 cents) from the commissary. Inmates told Fishman he returns from visits with his wife, Ruth, appearing "wistful" and telling them she was "off to play golf."

Madoff earns 14 cents an hour sweeping the commissary floor but his bid to manage the budget of the prison-landscaping crew was rejected, according to New York magazine.

"Hell, no," an amused supervisor told another inmate of Madoff's application. "I do my own budget. I know what he did on the outside."