Madoff Trades $7M Town House for Jail Cell

Infamous swindler Madoff begins his new life in a walk-in closet-sized cell.

March 13, 2009, 7:25 AM

March 13, 2009— -- Bernard Madoff may be used to life in his luxurious, $7 million town house, but his new Manhattan home is a 7½-by-8 foot cinderblock cell.

Today was Madoff's first full day at the Metropolitan Correction Center, where he was sent Thursday after pleading guilty to 11 felony counts and confessing to perpetrating one of the largest frauds in history.

Madoff won't have fancy clothes or food in his temporary new home, which has housed mobsters like John "Junior" Gotti and accused terrorists like the blind Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman.

He'll have to trade the sharp, charcoal-gray suit he wore to court Thursday for a baggy brown uniform. He'll get to go outside only once every other day, and outside will be a cage on the roof.

"Some of the guards are gonna go out of their way to make sure he knows he's nobody," said Joe Reddick, who served 16 years in federal prisons up and down the East Coast. "That $50 billion or whatever money he had, is nothing."

"In commissary, you're only allowed to spend $253 a month," Reddick said. "So everybody has the same spending limit.

"He may find a guard who might bring him an extra piece of chicken."

Madoff entered this harsh new world after walking into a federal court Thursday, where he told U.S. District Court Judge Denny Chin and a packed courtroom filled with the victims of his Ponzi scheme that he was "deeply sorry and ashamed."

"For many years up until my arrest I operated a Ponzi scheme," Madoff told the court. "When I began I thought it would be over shortly. It became difficult to stop."

"I knew what I was doing. It was wrong, and I'm deeply sorry," Madoff said.

Read Bernard Madoff's courtroom statement here.

Chin revoked Madoff's bail, sending him directly to jail and drawing applause from the crowd. Madoff faces a sentence of up to 150 years in prison when he is sentenced June 16.

When he checked in to jail Thursday, Madoff was likely given a physical and psychological exam and a list of house rules.

The schedule is strict: Lights on at 6 a.m., breakfast at 6:30 a.m., lunch at 11 a.m., dinner at 5 p.m., lights out at 11 p.m. During the day, Madoff can watch television, play ping-pong or volunteer for janitorial duty.

Madoff Could Be Transferred to Medium- or High-Security Prison

Some inmates must share their cells, though it was not clear if Madoff will have a roommate.

After Madoff is sentenced, he could be transferred to a medium- or high-security federal prison, where he could be housed alongside inmates convicted or murder, rape and robbery.

But, Reddick, the former inmate, said things may not be that bad for Madoff.

"The inmates are going to cling to him. To them he's gonna be a hero. He's going to be a genius," Reddick said.

"A lot of inmates are looking to get out and make money. They're going to pick his brain. Having someone else thinking they can come out and make a million dollars by scheming the world, absolutely, that's going to make him a star."

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