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Madoff in Prison: Beat Up, Hanging with Gangsters, Offering Financial Advice

Bernie Madoff, the man behind the Ponzi scheme that exemplifies the excesses of the "complex financial instruments" that brought our -- and the world's -- economy to the brink in 2008, has been in prison for eight months now. In case you were wondering how your favorite financial philanderer has been doing since he was last seen in New York City, the Wall Street Journal has an article out today that is replete with gems of his life behind bars at Butner, a medium-security federal prison in North Carolina. The article starts with an analysis of media reports relating to Madoff's Dec. 18 temporary transfer to a prison medical facility. The official word from the Bureau of Prisons was that he was being treated for dizziness and hypertension, but recently released inmates say Madoff was really "treated for a broken nose, fractured ribs and cuts to his head and face." These injuries, Madoff's former prisonmates say, were sustained in a fight, the result of a "dispute centered on money the assailant thought he was owed by Mr. Madoff." And who knows, maybe Madoff did pilfer some of the guy's money -- directly or indirectly. (According to the alleged assailant's mother, "he had been a body builder and held a black belt in Judo until he was injured in a shooting in 2002.") The former inmates say Madoff denied the attack so as to avoid a reputation as a snitch. One inmate says Madoff enjoys himself by watching films such as "Lethal Weapon." And he is said to be selective in the company he keeps in prison. He often dines with John Mancini, a 56-year-old pharmacist convicted of illegally distributing five million tablets of the painkiller hydrocodone, used in Vicodin. Madoff has also befriended Colombo crime-family boss Carmine Persico. Unsurprisingly, Madoff revels in dispensing financial advice, telling one ex-con to diversify his investments and avoid day trading. Says the recipient of his advice: "I was trying to get into day trading and he's like, 'That's not for you. That's for individuals like me with millions to spare.'" Where those fantastical millions are stashed, only Bernie knows. Madoff, who is over 70, has yet to serve 149 years and four months of his sentence for his $20 billion Ponzi scheme.
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