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Victims Fight Back as Madoff Sits Behind Bars

Tuesday, 24 Aug 2010 | 9:51 AM ET

Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme, estimated at $65 billion dollars, is still making headlines, as investigators follow the money trail nearly 14 months since he was sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Bernie Madoff
Getty Images
Bernie Madoff

While Madoff will be behind bars for the rest of his life, his victims on the outside are left picking up the pieces.

Norma Hill was in the New York City courtroom on June 29, 2009—the day of Madoff''s sentencing. Hill lost nearly a quarter of a million dollars in Madoff's scheme and told CNBC's American Greed that Madoff is "the Charles Manson of the investment world."

On the day of his sentencing, Madoff turned to face his victims in the courtroom and said, "I apologize to my victims. I am sorry. I know that does not help you."

Victim Stephie Halio lost more than one million dollars to a Madoff feeder fund, and told American Greed that she has no interest in his apology. Halio says, "He doesn't care how he ruined us. He doesn't care, the lives that he destroyed. He doesn't care, the people who killed themselves because of this. He's a monster."

Faced with new financial challenges, Halio and her husband now have started an airport care service. Carrying luggage and driving others to the airport was not her idea of retirement. The hours are long and difficult, and if business does not pickup, Halio worries that she will have to sell her home.

"We're working very hard to keep our home. We won't be able to keep it forever. We're gonna hold on maybe another year, then we'll have to leave it." says Halio.

Bernie Madoff Victim Norma Hill
Norma Hill lost more than a million dollars to Bernie Madoffâ??s Pozi scheme. She describes her chilling face-to-face meeting with Madoff.

Exactly one year after Madoff was sentenced, following his guilty plea on 11 fraud charges, a group of his victims, including Hill and Halio, gathered near Madoff's former office in New York City, many meeting for the first time. 29 strangers, bound by two things: money and loss.

Together, they wrote a book, titled "The Club That No One Wanted to Join—Madoff Victims In Their Own Words." The authors say the book was written to share their stories and to let the public know that Madoff's crimes affected more than just millionaires, but also average investors.

Madoff's Life Behind Bars

He is now one of 5,200 inmates at Butner Federal Correctional Institution III, 45 miles northwest of Raleigh, North Carolina. According to former Butner inmate, Shawn Evans, Madoff spends time at the prison law library.

Evans says there were other surprises for inmates. "You might hear an announcement, 'Report to the rec yard, 7:30 for popcorn' or something like that. You know, 'Bingo at 8:00'," says Evans. Treats like popcorn and bingo have given the prison the nickname, "Camp Fluffy".

Butner was originally built as an incentive for convicts in other facilities: the better behaved they are, the more likely they are to be transferred to Butner. It is also the first LEED certified, green federal prison in the country.

Life Behind Bars for Bernie Madoff
NY Magazine Reporter Steve Fishman explain why prison inmates admire Bernie Madoff.

New York Magazine reporter, Steve Fishman, who recently wrote a cover story on Madoff, tells CNBC that "Butner looks like a college campus. It's got lawns and trimmed hedges. If you've been to other penitentiaries, state penitentiaries, federal penitentiaries, maximum security, you know that Butner is a great place to end up."

What do Madoff's victims think about his comfort at a place like Butner? Says Halio, "I'd like to see him on a chain gang in the swamps of Georgia somewhere, being eaten alive by mosquitoes and being beaten up by the other prisoners. Instead, he seems to be very respected by the criminals that he associates with in Butner."

Authorities say that Madoff isn't eligible for release from Butner until 2139, when he would be 201 years old.

Contact

  • American Greed: Madoff Behind Bars
    Wednesday, December 11th 10p| 1a ET

    Showtimes

    Check back soon for upcoming show times.
  • "American Greed" is narrated by Stacy Keach. The award-winning actor of stage, film and television is well-known for his portrayals of Detective Mike Hammer and Ernest Hemingway, for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe.