Bernie Madoff Thriving Behind Bars

A new profile reveals an unrepentant, swaggering convict

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Who'd a thunk? Disgraced Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff is fitting in quite nicely at his medium-security prison in Maryland. New York Magazine's Steve Fishman interviewed dozens of current and former inmates to paint a fascinating picture of the 71-year-old:

He was a celebrity, even if his admirers were now murderers and sex offenders... Prisoners crowded Madoff seeking investment advice—missing the fact that Madoff, being a con man, hadn’t invested for years. Other convicts saw in him a fellow entrepreneur, ignoring the obvious fact that his scheme wasn’t a business at all, just smoke and mirrors. But Madoff had amassed the symbols of success, and for criminals, that counts. They are an ambitious, if not always perceptive, lot.

The lengthy profile, which is well worth reading, also reveals a criminal mind with no remorse for his many victims. Here's how the blogs are reacting to Madoff's second life:

  • Get Comfortable, Bernie, writes Dan Fletcher at Time: "Above all else, Madoff — who fleeced victims to the tune of at least $65 billion — largely comes across as unrepentant for his crimes. 'F*** my victims,' an inmate quotes Madoff as saying. 'I carried them for twenty years, and now I’m doing 150 years.' For Madoff’s sake, it’s a good thing he’s adapted so well — the 72-year-old stands virtually no chance of ever being released."
  • This Will Keep the Madoff Rage Alive, writes Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice: "For anyone who thought New Yorkers' ire for Bernie would fade, this profile, despite its humanizing moments, will fail to elicit sympathy. Public opinion will be the same as it's been for most, only now, in addition to crimes that are unforgivable, there are words that are unforgettable."
  • He's Living Large, writes Jeff Neumann at Gawker: "Madoff is a rock star in prison, and as one former prisoner said, 'Everybody was trying to kiss his ass.' Life on the inside clearly hasn't softened old Bernie."
  • This Is What Happens When You Throw an Old Criminal in Jail, writes Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft: "What did anyone expect? That he'd be understanding about his life sentence? If repentance was the goal, he should have been sentenced to a decade. At his age, a ten year sentence is practically a life sentence, it would be long enough to for him to have plenty of time to reflect on why he was there and miss the things he cares about, yet it would have also provided him a ray of light at the end of the tunnel. If he had been shown the slightest compassion, perhaps he'd be able to feel remorse. Instead, all he can feel is bitterness."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.