Bernie Madoff earns sweatshop wages in prison

The fraudster says he's making $40 a month -- about the same as Bangladesh garment workers.

By Aimee Picchi May 20, 2013 7:13AM

Bernard Madoff exits federal court in New York City on March 10, 2009 (c) Mario Tama/Getty ImagesBernie Madoff, whose formerly lavish lifestyle included a share in a private jet and houses in Palm Beach, Fla., and France's Cap d'Antibes, is now making wages akin to those earned by Bangladeshi garment workers.


Madoff told CNNMoney's Aaron Smith that he's making $40 a month by performing menial labor in prison. Because his prison phone account was out of money, he had to place a collect call to the publication. 


The convicted swindler is making his meager earnings by taking care of the prison's phone and computer systems. That means Madoff, whose name is now a byword for a grand cheater, is earning about the same amount as garment workers in Bangladesh, as the Huffington Post notes


Bangladeshi garment workers garnered international sympathy over their treatment after a factory collapse killed more than 1,000. (Retailers including Sears (SHLD) and J.C. Penney (JCP) are said to be reviewing a pact to help fund safety improvements at the country's manufacturing sites.) But few Americans are likely to feel anything approaching sympathy toward Madoff.


That's because he engineered what's thought to be the largest financial fraud in American history, creating a Ponzi scheme that led to the loss of billions of dollars for investors. Those who got sucked into his scam included the actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and the author Elie Wiesel's foundation. 


Madoff also told CNNMoney that he has trouble sleeping and blames himself for the 2010 suicide of his eldest son. 


"I was responsible for my son Mark's death, and that's very, very difficult," he said. "I live with that. I live with the remorse, the pain I caused everybody, certainly my family, and the victims."


Madoff isn't earning any more or less than other prisoners. The pay scale for federal prisoners is about 12 cents to 40 cents an hour, according to the Prison Policy Initiative. At Madoff's monthly pay, that means he's earning a quarter an hour, based on a standard 40-hour workweek. 


It's likely to be a wage he earns for the rest of his life. Madoff, 75, is serving a 150-year sentence.


Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi. 


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164Comments
May 20, 2013 9:13AM
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It bothers me that he would have access to a computer after what he did. 

 

May 20, 2013 9:13AM
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Madoff is over paid at $.40 an hour. I think his wages should go straight to his victims.
May 20, 2013 9:14AM
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Can't feel sorry for a guy who live a millionaire livestyle steallin from average people's savings and retirement. I THINK we need a kind of "Cultural Revolution" in this country where ALL federal congressmen and women and Senators and Presidents have to go to work camps for two years, get paid minimum wage, and go out and find housing, food, transportaion with NO HELP from anyone or any other source. THEN come back and claim to represent the commone person. Too bad it takes a high roller swindler to point out those doing really well do not have a clue and the worst part is they don't really care.
May 20, 2013 9:48AM
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I'm surprised that he isn't laundering.
May 20, 2013 9:12AM
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They need to garnish the meager wage he's getting..give the money to charity
May 20, 2013 9:25AM
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Crai Moar Bernie Madoff. Your tears are delicious!

This post is brought to you by Karma. Karma: What comes around, goes around and bites you in your rump!

May 20, 2013 9:19AM
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Handling phones and computers?  Guess he doesn't possess the skills to mop.
May 20, 2013 9:43AM
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that meager $40 a month should go to his victims so that he cannot use it.  he should have no privileges.
May 20, 2013 9:17AM
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any money he is paid should go to his victims. sure it is nothing to them, be he shouldn't get any benefits at all. it is a shame that taxpayers have to pay for his upkeep in prison. hopefully he will die soon.
May 20, 2013 9:22AM
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What about John Corzine?  I guess he's living proof, if you do enough or give enough to those in power, you are immune from prosecution.
May 20, 2013 9:19AM
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he should get a daily punch in the face.  Good morning, **Punch**, here's your breakfast - bread and water.
May 20, 2013 9:58AM
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All of it needs to go back to the people he screwed... every dime

 

May 20, 2013 9:56AM
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So whats new   our Government been screwing us for yrs.!??
May 20, 2013 9:32AM
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So what-he should be forced to sit alone 23 hours a day in his cell with no TV, no books, that's his life...............................then die
May 20, 2013 9:33AM
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Madoff never invested the money, "not a dime."  He didn't "spend" billions....so, the investors should get back 90%+...otherwise....where's the money?
May 20, 2013 9:25AM
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he feels bad that his son killed himself. his son killed himself so he wouldn`t become someone`s bitch in jail. coward
May 20, 2013 9:12AM
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How does one give any credence to such a "fluff" piece of writing if the author can' t even get the fundamental facts straight??  Specifically, please show me on a map the location of a Palm Beach, California???
May 20, 2013 9:13AM
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I wonder if swindling all those people was worth it to him.  My ex was the same sort of guy and will probably defraud people too now that he has an investment company.  My ex lost his marriage to his obsession with money and I wonder if that was worth it to him.
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