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Bernie Madoff Begins Prison Life Today

Convicted Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, who admitted to swindling investors out of billions of dollars, today begins life as prisoner No. 61727-054 at a federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C.

Madoff was sentenced earlier this month to 150 years in prison for multiple fraud and securities violations.

The prison where he probably will spend the rest of his life has two medium-security lock-ups and one low-security facility and a hospital. (We'll explain why "probably" in a moment.)

His prison-mates include Adelphia Communications honchos John Rigas and his son, Tim, who were convicted on multiple charges, including fraud.

Also, Madoff will be able to kick around the prison yard with Jonathan Pollard, an American who spied for Israel; and Omar Abdel-Rahman, the "blind sheik," who is serving a life sentence for trying to kill Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and blow up the United Nations.

From 2009, 150 years means the 71-year-old Madoff won't get out of jail until 2159, which, by the way, is only about 100 years before the original "Star Trek" series was set.

However, with good behavior, Madoff could shave 20 years off his sentence and get out on Nov. 14, 2139.

Okay, this is all very funny and these dates are the absurd details that journalists love to type in their Bernie Madoff stories with a straight face.

But here's the truth: If Madoff starts really cooperating with the feds and tells them where the money is, it's not absurd to think he could get out of jail alive.

So far, only about $1.2 billion of the swindled sum has been recovered by trustee Irving Picard, who has also managed payments of about $500,000 to some 543 Madoff investors, paid from insurance.

But where's the rest of the money and how much of there is it? And, perhaps more importantly, who helped Madoff? How far did his tentacles extend?

Prosecutors say Madoff has been uncooperative. But if he starts to sing, and what he says leads to convictions and recovery of investor money, then maybe, just maybe, Bernie Madoff will be a free man again someday.

-- Frank Ahrens
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By Frank Ahrens  |  July 14, 2009; 3:55 PM ET
Categories:  The Ticker  | Tags: Bernie Madoff  
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Interesting will be watching comments on this point. After all, why should Madoff's prison term be more onerous than Sheik Rahman's?

Posted by: Martial | July 14, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

Check with that Swiss bank, you know the one with all the secret accounts, just saying.
USB, UBS, whatever.

Posted by: rkerg | July 14, 2009 8:05 PM | Report abuse

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