Madoff lawsuit gives a glimpse of the fraudster at play, and in the Big House

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On Tuesday night in Manhattan Supreme Court, lawyer Joseph Cotchett filed additions to a lawsuit against bogus billionaire Bernie Madoff. In addition to offering glimpses about Madoff's business and his life behind bars, the new material alleges that numerous financial institutions including JPMorgan Chase (JPM), KPMG, the Bank of New York (BK), and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance were complicit in Madoff's scheme -- or at least should have been more vigilant about protecting their customers.

Cotchett, who interviewed Madoff in prison, says the businessman's company rode high on the anything-goes spirit of the 1970s. The suit claims that Madoff put two street toughs on his payroll in 1975, tasking them with procuring cocaine for his office. They did their job well; some insiders allegedly referred to Madoff's headquarters as "the North Pole."
Back in the day, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC was a hotbed of hedonism. Whether snorting coke, attending parties with topless waitresses and masseuses, or spending weekends on the company yacht, life on Team Madoff was a whirl of decadent fun.

Madoff's horizons are a bit narrower nowadays, and his colleagues are a little less A-list. For people who can't hear enough about Madoff's life behind bars, Cotchett's suit offers fresh details about Bernie's new day-to-day existence. One of Madoff's jailhouse buddies is Carmine "The Snake" Persico, former head of the Columbo crime family. Another is notorious 1980s spy Jonathan Pollard, convicted of passing top-secret U.S. military documents to Israeli agents.

While reminiscing about New York and sharing their feelings about being loathed by the general public, Persico, Pollard, and Madoff might also discuss food. There isn't much information about the quality of the cuisine at the Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, North Carolina, although Cotchett reports that the prison's pizza chef is a convicted child molester. (Although Butner is a federal penitentiary, its inmates have been incarcerated for a wide range of crimes. Madoff's cellmate is a 21-year-old drug offender.)

One can't help but wonder about Madoff's late-night conversations with his bunkmate as they drift off to sleep. Do they discuss their hopes and dreams, their fears and terrors, their favorite movies and dreamiest actresses? Or does Bernie just regale his roomie with tales of coke-fueled parties and complex con games? As he counts off his 150 years in the clink, Bernie will have plenty of time to relive his glory days.
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