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Why Bernie and Ruth Madoff are back in the news

October 28, 2011 | 12:09 pm

Convicted financier Bernie Madoff and his wife, Ruth Madoff, are suddenly back at the top of the news cycle. This time, it's not because of what they've done, but rather what they're saying.

In an interview with Barbara Walters — not caught on camera or photographed because of prison rules — Bernie Madoff said he's happier in prison than he was on the outside, according to a report on ABC News.

He was sentencedin 2009 to 150 years in prison for an enormous Ponzi scheme estimated to have cost investors at least $13 billion in losses. 

"I feel safer here than outside," Madoff told Walters. "Days go by. I have people to talk to and no decisions to make.... I know that I will die in prison. I lived the last 20 years of my life in fear. Now I have no fear -- nothing to think about because I'm no longer in control of my own life."

He said he's tormented by what he has done to his family — his older son committed suicide, his wife has cut off communication with him — but his thoughts toward his former clients seem more nuanced.

"I understand why clients hate me," he said. "The gravy train is over. I can live with that."

"The average person thinks I robbed widows and orphans," he added. "I made wealthy people wealthier."

As for Ruth Madoff, earlier this week "60 Minutes" let it be known that she told reporter Morley Safer that she and her husband had attempted suicide soon after the magnitude of Bernie Madoff's crimes became clear.

In a teaser clip on the "60 Minutes" website, a wan-looking Ruth tells Safer about the attempt.

"I don't know whose idea it was, but we decided to kill ourselves because it was so horrendous what was happening. We had terrible phone calls, hate mail, just beyond anything -- and I said I can't, I just can't go on anymore," she says in the video. "That's when I packed up some things to send to my sons and my grandchildren. I mailed them Christmas Eve, that added to the depression. I took pills and woke up the next day. It was very impulsive and I'm glad we woke up."

Almost three years after Madoff's Ponzi scheme was revealed, it might be easy to forget amid the personal drama just how angry the public was at the time.

Here's a reminder, from an L.A. Times article about the victims -- many of whom lost their life savings:

"I just want him to rot in jail for the rest of his life," said Richard Shapiro, 55, of Hidden Hills, a commercial real estate investor who was watching the news on television. "He's a thief and he's ruined people's lives."


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Left photo: Bernie Madoff leaves federal court in New York in 2009. Credit: Stuart Ramson / Associated Press. Right image: Ruth Madoff is shown in a video of her conversation with "60 Minutes" correspondent Morley Safer. Credit: "60 Minutes."