NEW YORK (PIX 11)—Bernard Madoff—convicted in the biggest “Ponzi Scheme” in history—is trying to rehabilitate his image from federal prison in North Carolina.
In a series of phone calls to reporter Steve Fishman, of New York magazine, Madoff said that when he realized his scam was out of control, “I kept on sort of telling myself that some miracle would happen or I was going to work my way out of it. “ After 2002 or 2003, Madoff said, “The number was so astronomical, I don’t know what I was hoping for, quite frankly."
Last year, the 72-year-old Madoff was sentenced to 150 years in prison for perpetrating a massive scheme that defrauded big-time and small-time investors out of $65 billion. Thousands of them are still trying to recover some of their lost savings. Madoff doesn’t “name names”—but says his contacts “said we’re going to start a fund, but we need you to commit to the money. So, I said, ‘Okay, I think I could do it. And because I thought that even if I "shorted" some of this stock through them, it would just be a matter of weeks or then months—and I’d be able to recover from it.'"
“All of my friends, most of my clients -- the individual clients -- all are not ‘net losers,'" Madoff claimed. “I made a lot of money for them. I was making 20% return for them, doing arbitrage for years. All the A and B clients. It was the people who came in very late in the game who got hurt. So did I make a lot of money for people? Yeah, I made a lot of money for people.”
Madoff said it fed his ego to have banks suddenly take his calls, banks that previously didn’t give him the time of day. He said he didn’t need to get involved in the investment advisory business that led to his downfall, because he had a successful business for 35 years that financed a very nice lifestyle for himself and his family.
He also talked about how he broke the news of the scheme to his unaware sons, Andrew and Mark: “That’s when I broke down, you know… I started crying…explained to them what the deal was.” He continued, “Everybody was, like, stunned. I was crying, and Andy, I remember, took me in his arms. You know, he just felt sorry for me at that stage…Mark was standing there in shock.” Madoff went on to confide, “The afternoon I told them all they immediately left." Then, with laughter in his voice, Madoff recounted, “They went to their lawyer. The lawyer said ‘you have to turn your father in,' and I never saw them again.”
Exactly two years after federal agents arrested Bernard Madoff, his younger son, Mark, committed suicide in his downtown apartment on December 11, 2010, while his small son slept in another room. Steve Fishman, the reporter, said he talked about the suicide with Madoff. “He said that he was destroyed, as any father would be, and he stayed in his cell for days on end.”
When asked about his wife, Ruth, Madoff said, “She’s still unhappy with me. She’s still embarrassed. Nothing was going to change that. But she feels sorry for me to a certain extent, you know, because she realizes I’m not a horrible person.”
Don’t try telling that to attorney Helen Chaitman, who lost her retirement “nest egg” to the Ponzi scam. “I would be much more interested in hearing Mr. Madoff name the people in high places who allowed him to carry out this scheme for so many years.”
Madoff claimed, in the phone calls, that he tried to give monies back to some clients, when he realized it was impossible to get out of the scheme.
“The abuse I got from people! How could you possibly do this!?....They wouldn’t take it back.” Madoff had this punch line, “I couldn’t tell them I would have been doing them a favor.”