Madoff to New York: 'I'm a Good Person'

Ponzi schemer reveals how his crimes have destroyed his family
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 28, 2011 6:13 AM CST
Bernie Madoff New York Magazine Interview: 'I'm a Good Person'
Bernard Madoff talked to New York Magazine about his crimes and their effects on his family.   (AP Photo/Louis Lanzano, file)

“How could I have done this?" asks convicted fraudster Bernie Madoff in his weekly prison therapy sessions. "I'm a good person." But although Madoff spectacularly betrayed his investors, the betrayal he inflicted on his family was far worse, writes Steve Fishman in a lengthy piece in New York Magazine. Fishman got to Madoff in a roundabout way: He passed him a letter through an inmate, then received a collect call from Madoff weeks later, the beginning of a "remarkable conversation that would stretch to several hours in more than a dozen phone calls."

Among the revelations in the story:

  • Carrying the secret of his fraud for so many years was a "nightmare." "Imagine going home every night not being able to tell your wife, living with this ax over your head, not telling your sons, my brother, seeing them every day in the business and not being able to confide in them."
  • Ruth "was mortified by what I did," said Madoff. "She would have been perfectly happy if I’d been a teacher. My wife, quite frankly, doesn’t forgive me for what I did. But at least she understood."
  • When he broke the news to his family, everyone cried. "Andy, I remember, took me in his arms,” Madoff said. "He felt sorry for me at that stage."
  • His son Mark fixated on his case, fearing the fraud extended to his father's feelings for his family. “[Mark] thought, ‘What else did he lie about? Did he lie about his love for his sons?’" said a friend. "Mark couldn’t get that out of his mind. He thought, ‘Who knows what’s true and what’s not?’ ”
  • Madoff is now disillusioned about the entire financial system. “It’s unbelievable, Goldman … no one has any criminal convictions. The whole new regulatory reform is a joke. The whole government is a Ponzi scheme.”
Click to read the entire piece. (Read more Bernie Madoff stories.)

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