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Madoff Is Headed for Prison in Butner, NC, Sources Say
by CNBC.com With Wires
Monday, July 13, 2009
Convicted swindler Bernie Madoff is on his way to federal prison in Butner, NC, where he is sentenced to spend the next 150 years, CNBC has learned.
According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site, the Butner facility houses a total of about 3,400 inmates.
Madoff will be joining several other well-known inmates at Butner.
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They include Omar Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist known as the "Blind Sheik" who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and former Adelphia Commmunications Chief Executive Officer John Rigas.
Also incarcerated there: former U.S. Naval Intelligence Analyst and convicted spy for Israel Jonathan Pollard; former Colombo crime family boss Carmine Persico; and Russell Weston, the perpetrator of a 1998 U.S. Capitol shooting that left two U.S. Capitol Police officers dead.
Madoff, 71, was sentenced on June 29 to an effective life sentence for masterminding the largest ponzi scheme in history. The disgraced financier had been jailed in a cell close to the Manhattan federal court where he pleaded guilty in March to criminal charges, including securities fraud, money laundering and perjury.
His sentence was the stiffest handed down for big-time white collar crime, compared with corporate scandals of recent years involving executives of WorldCom, Enron and Adelphia, Refco and the Bayou hedge fund.
From rubbing elbows with millionaires to sharing a prison yard with drug dealers and gangsters, Bernard Madoff's life is about to change dramatically.
Madoff will find himself earning pennies a day sweeping floors, cleaning toilets or manning a stove in the prison kitchen. Like all prisoners, corrections officers will shine a light in his face twice in the middle of the night as part of six or seven daily checks.
"One of the most difficult things to deal with in prison is the reality that you are powerless," said Jonathan Richards, author of "Federal Prison - A Comprehensive Survival Guide," who served time in a Federal Medical Center, which is similar to a low-security prison. "Your whole life you basically eat when you want to eat, sleep when you want to sleep, wear what you want to wear. Then, suddenly, this daily freedom is taken away."
Although Madoff will likely have air conditioning when the weather demands it, nearly all of the perks of the high-life he's accustomed to will disappear, regardless of whether he is sent to a low or medium security prison.
On arrival at the federal lock-up, Madoff will quickly see for himself that designer soaps aren't among the items included in his prison-issued hygiene kit. Instead, he'll get a tiny bar of soap, a tooth brush, a comb and a razor.
"This bar of soap is like the size of a matchbook," said Larry Levine, the founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, who spent 10 years in federal prison. "The razor -- you can barely shave with it."
The food will toe the line of edible, and his outdoor time will amount to pacing in an outdoor cage. His prison-issued khaki wardrobe won't make a fashion statement.
The chances of Madoff running his own investment club inside the prison are slim, but -- when he isn't working -- he should have plenty of time to read, write, exercise, and even network with other prisoners, if he chooses. Some inmates learn new skills like painting.
He can write and receive letters, make limited phone calls for 25 cents a minute, and it is possible he will have access to email, although his messages can be monitored.
Once Madoff is settled, his friends and family can visit, but conjugal visits are forbidden.
"You can hug, you can kiss, but they can't give you anything," said Levine, who served in high, medium, low and minimum security prisons. "You aren't permitted to go to the vending machine and get snacks yourself -- they have to get them for you. And before you know it, the visit is over."
â€”Reuters contributed to this report.
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