The most hated man in America is ready to talk.
Bernie Madoff granted a recent interview from prison to CNNMoney, in which he admitted to spending many a sleepless nights blaming himself for his son’s 2010 suicide.
A far cry from his once lavish lifestyle, Madoff now makes $40 a month doing boring prison labor. Still, he works only “a few hours” a day, which gives him plenty of free time to reflect on his part in the tragedy.
“I was responsible for my son Mark’s death, and that’s very, very difficult,” he told CNNMoney over the telephone. “I live with that. I live with the remorse, the pain I caused everybody, certainly my family, and the victims.”
Mark, 46, was Madoff’s oldest son. He hanged himself inside his Soho apartment using a dog leash on the second anniversary of his’ father’s arrest.
And Madoff’s guilt was likely brought on by Mark’s own words. The previous year, he had made another attempt to end his life by overdosing on sleeping pills, leaving a haunting note to his father that read, “Now you know how you have destroyed the lives of your sons by your life of deceit. F--k you.”
Switching subjects, Madoff told CNNMoney that his deception began after the Black Monday crash of 1987, a massive stock market sell-off from which he never truly recovered. He said that it was then that his former investors turned to fraud victims, but that the deceit wasn’t supposed to last as long as it did.
“It was certainly never my intention for this to happen,” said Madoff. “I thought I could work myself out of a temporary situation but it kept getting worse and worse and I didn’t have the courage to admit what I had done. It created a major problem.”
Fomer Madoff victim Mike De Vita, who penned “The Club that No One Wanted to Join”, is not buying Madoff’s apology. He told CNNMoney that “life for [Madoff] is kind of good in some ways.”
The conman’s words are just that, he says, “words, and words alone.”
“How could a father bring his own two sons into a business that he knows is nothing more than a massive criminal enterprise?” De Vita asked. “If he has that little consideration for his own family, how much consideration do you think he has for us?”
Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence for stealing more than $1 billion from investors in what has been called “the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.” He is scheduled for release in 2139.