Bernie Madoff's Words from Prison

ABC's Barbara Walters' exclusive meeting with the notorious Ponzi schemer.
6:37 | 10/28/11

Coming up in the next {{countdown}} {{countdownlbl}}

Coming up next:



Skip to this video now

Now Playing:


Related Extras
Related Videos
Video Transcript
Transcript for Bernie Madoff's Words from Prison
Bernie Madoff he's one of the most infamous criminals in our time a man who swindled millions of investors who trusted him completely in many. Lost their life savings in the biggest Ponzi scheme ever. -- he was convicted and sentenced to a 150. Years in prison in 2009 few outside those prison walls have heard from him. Until now ABC's Barbara Walters spoke privately with Madoff for nearly two hours and she joins us now Barbara that question people want to know what to. Okay he isn't a better -- correction center called -- and North Carolina. He came in and seemed composed. Of a once in awhile and things got emotional there -- few -- -- detect. When he talks. He was wearing khaki pants in the khaki shirt again not all I can use cameras that you can -- and -- and and and -- which is why I could. -- the notes have perfectly. He seems comfortable there and that's what surprised me tank he's comfortable -- He was the mastermind of the biggest Ponzi scheme in American history can be the biggest fraud cases ever it scam of the century -- -- already battered investing public then teammate of -- big news from investing news. Today he lives in itself. Sentenced to prison 150 -- I went to his prison in North Carolina two weeks ago. And sat face to face with him the two -- news he told me surprisingly. That he's happy another these venues. Quote. I feel safe -- -- -- outside. I know I will die in prison but I live the last twenty years of my life in fear. Now I have no fear because I'm no longer in control of my own mind. When I asked him if he missed his own life he responded. I don't know. Madoff acknowledges that you should be punished and he realizes. That he destroyed his family. And son -- condoms south last year in his own home. Crushed by the -- -- of his father. Mark's widow Stephanie told 20/20 Chris Cuomo she felt about Madoff now I -- earnings. If I -- bringing me off right now I would tell him that I -- fully responsible for killing my husband's. And I -- in his face. -- acted that interview which made -- -- -- he wrote me an email he said he was advised by the prison not to watch but he did anyway. And he said it was as painful as I expect and I am guilty of causing my son's death. And the unbearable pain I've caused Stephanie. And -- -- house before he went to prison. -- -- things -- doing his four months in the New York -- -- he contemplated suicide but didn't have the courage to do it. But his wife Ruth -- -- forthcoming interview with sixty minutes said that the two of them did attempt suicide together and Christmas Eve of 2008. I don't know who whose idea was. We decided to kill ourselves because this was. It was so horrendous. What was happening we had terrible phone calls hate -- Just beyond anything and -- I can't I just can't call it. He took pills. And woke up the next. Will you truth. I think and the end. I don't even remember back. I had I had triple -- had it infinitely more did you leave notes. Now. It was very impulsive. I'm Glenn woke up. Today made -- in prison isn't therapy and he says she's able to compartmentalize. When he did. He says he never thinks about suicide now he's fine by day but he really sweet and has he has horrible nightmares. I asked him if he was depressed and he said yes but the fact I'm functioning troubles me a great deal. You can't do what I've done without -- May just spends his days working in the comments as what he -- glorified bad boy. He makes a 170 dollars a month and that's one of the higher paying jobs in the Princeton. He -- everyone treats me well the young kids -- nice to me they look up to me all the wrong reasons. May -- spends his down time in jail. Reading books particularly Daniel -- romance novels. When he told -- that he was reading them she laughed and said don't tell anybody most men don't read them. As his wife -- says that after his son's suicide last December Ruth told him quote let me go. He says they have not seen a talk to each other since he added this doesn't hate me she has no one it's not fair to her. She had told him that he had an easier in prison saying you -- -- in there no one is judging news. And he said that Ruth is -- an allowance until the final settlement he shot from the gap he says and lives modest. About his victims who made -- said quote I understand why clients take make the gravy train is over I can live event. The average person thinks I'm god widows and orphans I made wealthy people wealthy. He says he takes full responsibility. For his crimes but he added nobody put a gun to my head I never planned to do anything wrong. Things just got out of hand. I don't believe I'm a bad guys who -- stupid. Not a bad -- Fascinating you know I heard him speak in court when he was sentenced to what struck me with it it was a toughness kind of street about bring me. What -- -- by the way he can make collect calls and he's been recorded. But you have to realize that this is a guy who came from very humble beginnings I think in Brooklyn. And he said that he was dealing with the biggest people in the world that he was dealing with the biggest banks that he was so high up all of this had happened to him. -- you know -- and nobody. And that's one of the reasons today. It was so hard for him to admit that he was just taking people's money and never investing that he was really -- -- too hot for him to get it back. -- Barbara Walter's great reporting.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

{"id":14835324,"title":"Bernie Madoff's Words from Prison","duration":"6:37","description":"ABC's Barbara Walters' exclusive meeting with the notorious Ponzi schemer.","url":"/Nightline/video/bernie-madoffs-words-prison-14835324","section":"Nightline","mediaType":"default"}