Three weeks after writing a letter to convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, Fox Business Network senior correspondent Charlie Gasparino was on his way to dinner when he got a collect call from the world's most notorious financial fraudster.
"His voice is the most amazing, soothing voice," Gasparino told "Good Morning America" today. "You really feel like you're talking to your uncle, your nice, rich uncle who's a nice guy and, you know, you don't feel like you're talking to an arch-criminal."
That call began a six-week-long interview process that included numerous email exchanges and phone calls and shed light on what Gasparino called an "alternate reality" Madoff seemed to be creating for himself.
"His side of the story was pretty simple," Gasparino said. "It's, 'Listen, I was kind of victimized too. You know, I was part of a racket, which is Wall Street. And by the way, my clients all knew I was ripping people off... They were forcing me to do this because they had such high expectations. So I'm kind of a victim too."
"It's got to be delusional," Gasparino said.
One such apparent delusion, Madoff said he's in discussions with Harvard University to develop course work for its students from his jail cell in Butner, N.C. Harvard told Gibson "the entire matter is not true."
In a previous interview granted to New York Magazine, Madoff appeared unapologetic for his crimes that defrauded investors out of approximately $50 billion.
"Did I make a lot of money for people?" Madoff told New York Magazine according to audio tapes of the interview. "Yea, I made a lot of money for people. Did people lose profits that they thought they made? Yes."
Gasparino said, "He's a pathological liar. There is no doubt about that."
"His aim right now is not to help regulators find out exactly where [Wall] Street is wrong," Gasparino said. "His aim right now is to sort of create an alternative reality for himself and for the general public to think, 'He wasn't such a bad guy.'"
Bernie Madoff 'Delusional'
At least once, Madoff told Gasparino that nothing he says now "should in any way be taken as justification for my own wrongdoing... That would be impossible."
But Gasparino thinks there's a bigger game afoot as television networks continue to court Madoff from prison for his first television interview since his arrest.
"Let's face it. He still wants to feel important... That's what all this is about," Gasparino said. "He's got such an inflated sense of himself."