Bernie Madoff – Confined by a Prison of His Own Making – Comments by Fraud Prevention Expert Chuck Gallagher

ABC News wrote about “Bullet Proof Bernie” – nice article but predictable – here’s a link.   It seems that whenever a crime is discovered there is the public outcry for justice.  From most every angle by most media outlets, there is a profuse desire to see Bernie Madoff suffer as others have suffered at his hand or by his doing.  It is a logical desire as it is driven by human emotion.

madoff1The article states in its beginning:

The federal government today took a second shot at attempting to argue in court that alleged $50 billion fraudster Bernard Madoff ought be put behind bars while it gets its case against him into shape for court, and a second federal judge deflected the attempt to revoke the current bail conditions.

Perhaps that is the story.  Perhaps it is as simple as an eye for an eye.  Perhaps it is all about the process.  Perhaps it is more?

While fascinated with were Bernie Madoff will be temporarily imprisoned, I suggest that his incarceration began sometime back – before any of us knew the scope and maginatude of his fraud –  and has been on going – just not the way the public would like to see – as evidenced by the media frenzy.    The article talks about Bernie’s entrance into the court room with a bullet proof vest worn over his clothing.  It further goes on to describe his current method of confinement:

He is currently confined, except for court appearances, to his Manhattan cooperative apartment. There is an armed security guard on duty at all times, video cameras recording visitors at both the front and rear entrances, and Madoff also wears an electronic security ankle bracelet that would instantly notify the U.S. Marshals or the FBI if he attempted to leave the premises without permission and an escort.

All of this interest in how Bernie Madoff will be punished is certainly interesting, but fails to address the much larger issue that allows such a crime to take place in the first place.  Two questions to ponder…

  • What would motivate an otherwise intelligent, competent person to choose to defraud his friends, close business associates and disappoint those closest to him? What was in the “Mind of Madoff” that could make such a crime possible?
  • More importantly, how could very bright, influential and astute investors be taking for so much so easily?  Was the sheer masterful illusion he created so powerful that it would take down the very powerful and influential of our country?

I believe that the “why” he did it and the “how” he did it is far more important than what happens now.  Agree?

On my Facebook wall the following was written:

Chuck – well Madoff remains in home confinment. Appropriate legally. He has created his prison and its much deeper than where the government might send him. 5:53pm
Betsy Rodgers Smith at 5:55pm January 14
Agreed….he has been in the prison of his own making for a very long time.
Chuck Gallagher at 6:00pm January 14
Yes. I’ve been there (on a much MUCH smaller scale and the pain was tremendous. Odd, but I understand where he is and yet see the pain felt by his victims. Likely he will die in prison – either figuratively or literally or both.
Jimmy Carter at 6:35pm January 14
I am certain that even the luxurious walls of a Manhatten apartment will tend to grow close given a sufficient amount of time.
Terence Washington at 7:53pm January 14
They’re still “luxurious” meanwhile the unemployment line grow longer and longer. All his brethren need to be shipped off to a small island populated with wolves,sharks, they can mingle with creatures of their own ilk.
Chuck Gallagher at 9:03am January 15
Interesting to see what responses folks feel. I had an entry on my blog that generated similar emotions. I often wondered if the person who was most critical found themselves in the shoes of the accused, would they have the same attitude for “wolves, sharks and weasels”?

By the way, Madoff is a prisoner in a nice place, but will – no doubt – be a prisoner (if he lives that long) is federal prison – and that is not so nice. I know – I’ve been there.

Terence Washington at 9:08am January 15
After reviewing my acerbic comments I would have to say I still stick by them. I mean, Madoff is the Master of his own Universe( in the scope of reality). Greed fed his universe, like it does so many people.

The bible says never judge “lest he be judged”, but I’ll never ever ever( cubed, squared,etc) be in a loathsome situated as Mr.Madoff–I’m way to level headed for that. His prison is his own, how he resides in or his mental anguish it is not my concern.

Chuck Gallagher at 1:17pm January 15
Fair enough…he does reside in a prison of his own doing. I wonder however if greed fed his universe or if it was fed by ego? By the way…thanks for the comments.
Ask youself this question – when you read or hear about Bernie Madoff – what emotion comes up for you.  Take the time to feel deeply.  It is far too easy to take the “I’d never do that path” than it is to explore the “whys” and “hows.”
While there will be much more to come – as this issue and case is far to complex for one writing – the real value will come in understanding the “Mind of Madoff.”   While I must be honest, I don’t know Bernie Madoff personally, I have been in his shoes.  Not proud of it, but I did  perpetrate a Ponzi scheme (for which I spent time in federal prison) so I know, from experience, what is in the mind of someone who commits such a fraud, and likewise, how easy it is to achieve. Today I help organizations prevent fraud and deal with ethical issues.  See here.
Madoff set a standard that will be written about for years.  The people he defrauded will suffer the consequences of his actions and their inactions.  As for Bernie’s future…  well he is already in prison – a prison of his own doing.  He will be cut off from life as we (who are free) know it.  That disconnection is more painful than you can imagine.  He will be reduced to a number and sent to federal prison where – he will likely die.  The bright young man who faced a bright future at 22 when he first started investing will leave this world, more than likely, the shell of a man who will be remembered for the illusion he created.
For all involved it is sad…
For more information about Chuck Gallagher and his presentations visit

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