Bernie Madoff, the reviled Ponzi schemer who ruined so many people, thinks he's the one you should feel sorry for.He just went along. One day he woke up and realized what he'd done, but just went along.
Turns out, keeping the whole billion-dollar scheme secret from his family was a major burden.
"It was a nightmare for me," he said. "Even the regulators felt sorry for me...They said, 'How did you live with this? Not being able to tell anybody?'"
In a series of phone interviews with New York magazine, Madoff repeatedly said he wasn't trying to justify what he did - and then he repeatedly tried to justify what he did.
"These people probably would've lost all that money in the market," he said from prison in Butner, N.C., where he just wrapped up the first year of his 150-year sentence.
He blamed his clients - the fat cats and charities and foundations who lost billions in his bogus investment fund - for failing to question how he kept making steady profits even in down years.
"These banks and these funds had to know there were problems," Madoff said.
He noted that he never explained his strategies or methods.
"I absolutely refused to do it. I said, 'You don't like it, take your money out,' which of course they never did," he said.
He says he told all of his investors not to risk any money they couldn't afford to lose. But, he said, "everyone was greedy."
When they begged him to invest their money, "I just went along," Madoff said.
His surviving son, Andrew, won't speak to either of his parents. The New York magazine writer said he suspected Madoff granted the interview as a way of speaking to Andrew.Madoff pal Chuckie Schumer was unavailable for comment. He's busy with more pressing concerns, like WiFi.
Madoff said he cried for two weeks over his son's suicide.
"Not a day goes by that I don't suffer," he said.