Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff brutally assaulted in prison
2 hrs 9 mins ago
Last December, officials at the federal prison in Butner, N.C., rebuffed rumors of a prison-yard beatdown involving the facility's most famous inmate, Bernie Madoff—he of the multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that crashed to earth so ingloriously in 2008. Yes, the prison’s administrators conceded, Madoff had suffered facial fractures and lacerations, broken ribs and a collapsed lung requiring an extended hospital stay. But the former Wall Street titan had just fallen out of his bunk bed, they insisted.
Today, observers who were skeptical of the odds that one’s lung might collapse after a tumble out of bed were vindicated. The Wall Street Journal confirmed the more plausible version of events today: that Madoff was indeed jumped and beaten up by a fellow inmate, a “beefy” gent who possessed a black belt in judo—and had a personal grievance stemming from a Madoff-contracted debt he believed he was owed.
According to three prison sources the paper spoke to, the man who stole tens of billions of dollars from clients over a span of decades spends his days at the medium-security facility watching action films like "Lethal Weapon" and doling out financial advice to fellow inmates in the prison library. The sources say that Madoff’s closest buddy is a New York pharmacist locked up for the illegal distribution of painkillers—but that he also socializes frequently with Carmine Persico, the head of the Colombo crime family.
The unnamed man—who’s serving out a sentence based on federal drug charges—clearly is not part of the Madoff inner circle at Butner. He might well be able to score some free drinks once he’s released, however, from fellow members of the bilked-by-Bernie fraternity—an extensive list that includes Kevin Bacon, Steven Spielberg and New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon. Even Harry Markopoulos, the whistle-blower who tracked the Madoff scam for years, has told the press he wouldn’t have blanched at murdering Madoff if that was what it took to stop him.
The December incident wasn't the first time Madoff found himself engaged in a prison brawl. He allegedly emerged the victor after an argument with another inmate over the "state of the market" ended in fisticuffs last October. Additionally, the New York Post reported last year that various prison gangs, including the Butner facility’s "homosexual posse," had been aggressively trying to recruit Madoff into their crews, regarding his notoriety in the outside world as a badge of honor.
Oddly, for all the concern about the irrational bent of the nation’s army of pitchfork-wielding populists, physical attacks on Wall Street chieftains are not exactly epidemic. The only other former master of the universe who’s suffered a physical attack was former Lehman Brothers head Dick Fuld—and he was smacked by one of his former employees, not a fleeced investor.
"It's actually been a little surprising that there haven't been more of them out there," said John Carney, about episodes in which financiers might find themselves on the wrong end of a fist. Carney, who covers Wall Street for Business Insider, adds that the cocoon of privilege that envelops most high-rolling investors can also serve as protective camouflage. "They live in a world where they have limited contact to normal human beings. In order to get beat up they have to be in the same room as people who aren't just like them."
— Brett Michael Dykes is a national affairs writer for Yahoo! News.
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