In a recent article in New York magazine, Steve Fishman writes about how convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff is doing in jail, where he has almost finished the first year of his sentence (meaning he just has 149 to go). The short answer appears to be that he is doing just fine.
In fact, he is apparently a celebrity even in a facility that houses spies, terrorists, and mob bosses. (And those are the relatively good guys.) When Madoff arrived, one inmate told Fishman, “[i]t was like the president was visiting.” Media helicopters flew overhead. Groupies trailed him as he walked around the track for exercise. Inmates lined up asking for investment advice (I wasn’t aware that was a priority for inmates), apparently forgetting that Madoff was just a criminal who did not actually do any investing, or at least hadn’t done any for years, preferring to Ponzi-scheme. And apparently doing time in the prison where Madoff now resides is not terrible, relatively speaking. Inmates who have done time elsewhere refer to the place as “Camp Fluffy.” So things seem to be going more or less okay.
True, Madoff will be in prison for the rest of his life, has been separated from his family, etc., etc. But if you think you might feel sorry for him, don’t — he doesn’t feel sorry for anybody else. “F— my victims,” Madoff reportedly said one day when an inmate was giving him grief about said victims. “I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.” He blamed the victims for “throwing money at me,” and maybe they did, but still.
Now, Madoff has at least had to dial back his standard of living a bit. Inmates can only spend a total of $290 a month, and he is trying to stretch that as far as he can. Others described him as “stingy.” One inmate, who runs a laundry business, says the former fake tycoon pays him $8 a month to do his laundry. ” I was charging $10,” he said, “which is the going rate, but Bernie’s too cheap.”