When one is serving a 150 year sentence for running a massive Ponzi scheme, he tends to find himself with time on his hands to think about things. Take Bernie Madoff, for example. He has a job in the joint (working in the commissary) and he gets in daily walks on the track but other than that, the hours are usually spent reflecting. His reflection time over the last couple years has lead to a few big conclusions and chief among them? That he's been on the receiving end of a bum rap, in more ways than one, which he's mentioned during several stops on his Legitimate Years Tour. In February, he griped to New York:
“Does anybody want to hear that I had a successful business and did all these wonderful things for the industry?” Bernie continued. “And got all these awards? And so did my family? I did all of this during the legitimate years. No. You don’t read any of that.”
Last month, he remindedNew Yorker reporter Jeffrey Toobin that he "was worth a billion dollars before any of this nonsense started" but does anyone ever mention that? No they only care about the net worth accrued from his ill-gotten gains. On the same tour stop, he also suggested that he should be getting credit for his later work (the legitimacy of which is still an open-ended question in his mind), if only for the fact that its complexities could only be understood by the most sophisticated of investors (him).
Still, he speaks about his financial acumen with unmistakable pride. “The strategy that I was using for them, whether it was real or not, was not something that anyone would understand if you were not an expert,” he said. As he put it in an e-mail, “Fred was not [at] all stock market savvy and Saul was not really either. They were strictly Real Estate people. Although I explained the Strategy to them they were not sophisticated enough to evaluate it properly, nor were most of my other individual clients. They were not in a position to perform the necessary due diligence and did not have access to necessary financial info or records.”
Which leads us to Berns' latest. In an interview with the Times he reasons that he got such a raw deal because the judge, like all of his feeble-brained haters, doesn't understand how "the industry" works.
Mr. Madoff, in a recent series of interviews and e-mails, took issue with the judge’s description. To characterize him as “this monster and this evil person,” he said, “I just think that was totally unrealistic and unfair.”
“In my mind, Chin was anything but fair, with zero understanding of the industry,” Mr. Madoff added. He said the judge had made him “the human piñata of Wall Street,” while financial firms and government officials “walk away free.”
“Remember,” he said, “they caused the recession, not me.”
Anyway, it's not all bad. Bernie finally has the time for leisure reading, which is great and something he couldn't enjoy while running the most next level series of fake trades the world had never seen.
Mr. Madoff, who did not appeal his sentence, said he worked most days in the commissary and spent recreational time walking on a track and reading books, from junk novels to biographies. He made it clear that he had not been much of a reader previously. “Now, I literally read two books a week,” he said. “I’m reading all the James Michener books.”