From the moment he arrived at the federal prison sophisticated in Butner, North Carolina, on July 14, 2009, until eventually his demise Wednesday, Bernard Madoff was a lot more than just inmate No. 61727054.
Fellow inmates reportedly sought him out for fiscal suggestions. Academics, lawyers and journalists clamored for his insights on the epic fraud he carried out.
After many years on Wall Street, Madoff knew a thing of benefit when he experienced a single. So, in substantially the same way as he captivated buyers to his fraudulent plan by appearing to be aloof, Madoff was strategically stingy in his responses, parceling them out in what seemed to be a meticulously crafted attempt to form his individual legacy.
My tries to build contact with Madoff started around the time he pleaded guilty to 11 prison counts in March 2009. They provided multiple letters to him in prison. Last but not least, on Oct. 20, 2012, he responded.
“Scott, you (are) nothing if not persistent,” he wrote.
Quite a few of the dozens of emails he despatched above the upcoming quite a few a long time have been off the record. That condition expired with his demise in jail, two months shy of his 83rd birthday. Now, his writings can be unveiled.
In that initial email, Madoff sought to position himself as an authority on the market place system he assisted create, top to his appointment as non-govt chairman of Nasdaq in 1990.
Never ever head that Madoff had performed more to undermine investor self esteem than most likely any particular person in current market record. At the time of our initial correspondence, the economic environment was still abuzz with the deficiency of major criminal prosecutions adhering to the 2008 economic disaster.
“I find it aggravating that about my job I have both equally chaired and served on many committees and boards in which some of the pretty practices that established the functions accountable for the mess were talked over in element, and at some of these exact meetings there were the regulators, general councils [sic] and CEOs that now claim they had zero information of what was going on,” he wrote.
In a further concept, on March 22, 2013, Madoff introduced into perhaps the most audacious portrayal of his alleged achievements.
“It is not necessary to go into the good results and accomplishments of the business enterprise that I, jointly with my loved ones, made,” he wrote. “Regardless of the cries and accusations of many others, there is ample documentation and record to establish a lasting legacy. A legacy that my family members can be proud of in spite of the terrible miscalculation I made and (am) entirely responsible for.”
Madoff was often cautious to throw in a point out of the guilt he claimed to really feel around his fraud.
“Scott, please recognize that I have under no circumstances denied my guilt or unsuccessful to condition my shame and remorse for the injury I have caused,” he wrote on Oct. 23, 2012.
But in that similar electronic mail, he expressed disappointment about how he was portrayed adhering to his former tries to convey to his tale, which includes in the authoritative ebook about the scandal, “The Wizard of Lies” by Diana B. Henriques, published in 2011. Madoff complained that even with his intensive cooperation, the ebook portrayed him as “a villainous poster boy of Wall Avenue.”
The tale Madoff truly desired to notify was his claim that he was supplying considerable guidance to prosecutors and to court docket-appointed trustee Irving Picard in recovering property for the victims. Madoff claimed that “95% of the restoration to day” was the outcome of his pressuring a handful of large traders to return their revenue, in any other case he would expose their “complicity.”
They involved Florida philanthropist Jeffry Picower, located lifeless in his swimming pool of a heart assault in 2009. The adhering to calendar year, his widow, Barbara Picower, agreed to a $7.2 billion settlement, which stays the most significant single recovery to date.
“From the day of my arrest I have made available the two the Gov’t and the Trustee my support in the restoration of property,” Madoff wrote.
Bernard Madoff leaves U.S. Federal Court after a listening to regarding his bail on Jan. 14, 2009, in New York.
Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images
“In the initially days I was out on bail, I contacted these get-togethers and created it fairly apparent that they had the subsequent selections. Return the monies which would cover the financial investment principal of my clientele,” Madoff wrote on Nov. 19, 2012. “I reminded them that I had several penned correspondence and fax directions issued and signed from them and their accountants and workers. I went on to point out that I had nothing at all to lose by offering out this information and facts, getting now pleaded guilty and struggling with a very long sentence.”
At the time of the settlement, Barbara Picower’s legal professional claimed it was inspired not by guilt or any type of tension, but because it was the right detail to do.
“She believes in the basic principle that any individual who gets money from a fraud really should return it to the rightful owners,” William Zabel reported.
Equally Picard and federal prosecutors have mentioned that Madoff supplied no aid by any means in tracing or recovering assets, and that there is no proof he contacted his previous investors. His plea agreement in 2009 bundled no provision for his cooperation with the govt.
Prosecutors and Picard have alleged that Madoff’s fraud started as early as the 1970s, but Madoff frequently tried using to claim that it started considerably afterwards, as an endeavor to sidestep a split in the markets that spun wildly out of command.
“Almost everything went along high-quality for decades and then we ran into the 1987 marketplace crash,” Madoff stated in a lengthy electronic mail on March 18, 2013. “My U.S. customers, especially three households, started to worry.”
Madoff said he had created a elaborate hedging method making it possible for his clients to reduce their tax liabilities in the market runup, but it all began to unravel when purchasers sought to unwind their positions. He wrote that he managed to navigate the 1987 crash, and as the industry rebounded, “far more monies started to move in as term acquired out that Bernie experienced a new method for hedge funds and large net really worth shoppers.”
“Then the market stalled due to the onset of the economic downturn and the Gulf war.”
Madoff claimed that is where by the fraud commenced: when he falsely claimed to his consumers that he was investing their money in the inventory industry and earning outsized returns. In simple fact, the bulk of the cash was simply just deposited into a JPMorgan Chase financial institution account.
“The relaxation is my tragic heritage of never currently being capable to get well,” he wrote.
Investigators have reported that Madoff’s account, like the trades he claimed to have executed, was pure fiction.
My interactions with Madoff culminated in an extraordinary, two-hour assembly with him in a conference home at the Butner jail in early 2013.
In the meeting, he trapped to his purported timeline of the fraud and his rivalry that some victims, and the settling financial institutions, have been “complicit.” (In 2014, JPMorgan Chase agreed to pay out $2.6 billion — devoid of admitting wrongdoing — to settle allegations that it turned a blind eye to the fraud.)
Nevertheless, Madoff reported he found prison enjoyable and that he was catching up on his examining.
“It is like remaining in the army, only no 1 is attempting to eliminate you,” he claimed.
Death in shame
As the many years went on, and Madoff apparently understood that his efforts to form his possess legacy have been mostly futile, the correspondence from jail began to dwindle.
In 2014, Madoff disclosed that his wellbeing was deteriorating, which include stage 4 kidney condition, a problem jail doctors diagnosed as terminal in 2019.
The past email arrived in July of that yr, in reaction to an inquiry about a notation on the U.S. Bureau of Prisons web site that he had just lately been transferred to the prison healthcare heart.
“I’m all right,” he wrote.