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Money manager Bernard Madoff has a new address. The convicted swindler was taken yesterday to the federal prison in Butner, North Carolina. He's serving a 150-year term for defrauding investors out of billions of dollars. NPR's Adam Hochberg reports.
ADAM HOCHBERG: As he settles into his accommodations at Butner, Bernard Madoff will trade his business suits for a standard-issue uniform; his penthouse apartment for a tiny, two-person room; and his country club membership for visits to the prison recreation yard. Madoff will be housed in a medium-security facility on Butner's sprawling, rural, North Carolina campus. And he may never again see what's outside its barbed-wire fence.
Mr. JEFFREY IAN ROSS (Criminologist, University of Baltimore): On the whole, it ain't a pleasant place to be.
HOCHBERG: University of Baltimore criminologist Jeffrey Ian Ross has written several books about prisons and the people who live there. He says Madoff, after a life of privilege, will have to adapt quickly to a new lifestyle.
Mr. ROSS: His day is not his own. He wakes up when everybody else wakes up. He eats when everybody else does. He goes to bed when everybody else goes to bed. In many respects, the transition is more difficult for people who have been convicted of a white-collar crime because they're used to calling the shots.
HOCHBERG: If it's any consolation to the man who perpetrated one of the largest frauds in American history, he won't be Butner's only infamous inmate. Others include corrupt former Congressman Duke Cunningham, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, and former Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas, who were involved in a fraud scheme of their own. The Rigases' lawyer, Lawrence McMichael, has been to Butner several times to visit his clients.
Mr. LAWRENCE MCMICHAEL (Attorney): I would say that Butner's a very good prison, and it's a well-run operation. They have a very good staff. And based on my experiences there, I'd say the prison population is preferably pleasant, and they deal with their circumstances as well as people can deal with them.
HOCHBERG: Madoff had requested to serve his time at a prison in Otisville, New York, closer to his former home on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Federal officials didn't say why they chose Butner instead.
But the North Carolina prison has experience with white-collar criminals and has a extensive medical center, which may have been a factor with the 71-year-old inmate. George Nierenberg, a filmmaker who was among Madoff's victims, doubts the con man ever thought he'd end up in medium security.
Mr. GEORGE NIERENBERG: He tried his best he could to get a short-term sentence. That became impossible. He tried to get into a minimum-security prison. That became impossible. And now he's got to deal with the implications of spending the rest of his life isolated from humanity.
HOCHBERG: Nierenberg, whose family lost most of its savings to Madoff, says he doesn't take any satisfaction in the swindler's fate. In fact, he says he doesn't care much about Madoff at all. His interest now, he says, is in pulling his own life back together, and seeing his family and the other victims recover as much money as they can.
Adam Hochberg, NPR News, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
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