In His Shoes

Unless he somehow manages to commit suicide, Bernie Madoff is going to die in jail. That seems appropriate to me, but I’m wondering why he didn’t just run for it when he had the chance. He knew the Feds were on his tail and it was just a matter of time. I’m asking because something in me can’t help but sympathize with a caged bird, especially when he/she is looking at life in the slammer.

If I was Madoff I would have prepared for my escape and disappearance during my ponzi-scam days. All criminals need to face the fact that sooner or later they’ll be forced to lam it. I would have socked away massive amounts of cash in a few Swiss, Cayman Islands and Venezuelan bank accounts under fake names, with debit and credit cards attached to each account. And I would have hired pros to create several sets of first-rate fake IDs and fake passports. And I would have arranged in advance for plastic surgery with a first-rate specialist based in Moscow.

I would have slipped out of Manhattan before the Feds arrested me. I would have taken a private plane to northeastern Canada and then another to Iceland, and then a third to Belgium. I would then enjoy a leisurely car trip to Russia, my pockets and briefcase stuffed with several hundred grand in Euros, ready to bribe whenever necessary. I’d meet my plastic surgeon somewhere in the Ukraine — haven’t decided where.

After the operation I’d move to Tartu in Estonia and recover for six or seven weeks. Then I’d drive down to Moscow and hire myself a team of four elite bodyguards — two guys, two women — and invest in the finest electronic security systems and outfit all my homes with them.

Then I’d make my way to Vietnam. I’d probably build myself a high-security home in the Central Highlands and live in it for two or three months — no more. The eventual plan would be to have several “safe houses” but never stay in any one for very long. Always moving, never sleeping with more than one eye closed, “like Yassir fucking Arafat.”

I’d buy a 100-foot sailing craft and move around from port to exotic port like a wandering character in a Joseph Conrad novel. I’d hire three full-time prostitutes to travel with me, but they’d have to be prostitutes who know how to sail. I might smoke opium from time to time. I’d pay for even more hookers to drop by on weekends, but they’d have to be highly educated and well-read. No booze, no cigarettes. But I’d chill out with quaaludes from time to time.

I’d volunteer with Red Cross organizations to help the poor. I’d move to Darfur and try and use my money to try and purchase some level of comfort or protection for the poor who live there. I’d move the operation to the Amazon jungle from time to time. I’d see about getting to know Hugo Chavez (although he might not want to know me). I’d travel to the South Pole and then to South Africa, and then take a ferry to Madagascar. I’d catch plays in London twice a year. I’d buy a studio in Montmartre that I’d visit every four or five months for a week or two. I’d always stay inside days, reading and watching movies on my 52″ LCD flatscreen, and working out on a treadmill. I’d go out to dinner and for walks in the evenings, wearing shades and a fishing hat.

I’d eventually get pinched, of course. Sooner or later somebody would sell me out or spot me (even with my altered appearance). But I might stay free for two or three years, and at least I’d have a great adventure under my belt and many things to remember before spending the rest of my life in miserable confinement.

  • Marty Melville

    Or just sign with my agent… you’d disappear instantly.

  • http://reno-rambler.blogspot.com renorambler

    Sounds like you’re pitching a movie. Not a bad one at that. If only you could get Michael Mann to direct. [I'm not being sarcastic]

  • BurmaShave

    Best post ever, and best comment ever.

  • Sabina E

    Maybe Madoff actually realized what a horrible thing he had done and he wanted to go to prison to make up for his crimes?

  • Sabina E

    OR he thought that with his money he could bribe the whole justice system, only to get fucked and be sent to prison.

  • George Prager

    Old guys like that can’t survive without sleeping in their own bed, making coffee from their own coffee machine (or being served coffee from their own coffee machine), taking a dump in their own bathroom, etc. Jail will be more comfortable than some coke and booze generated scenario that Wells can think up.

  • http://www.robertcashill.blogspot.com btwnproductions

    At a certain point it was less about the money and more about the getting away with it that spurred Madoff on. He knew he’d get caught sooner or later but was addicted to the risk of it. He’s a classic sociopath.

  • JT

    Wells: Just imagine that this dude is Rush or that big guy who lives aove you and is going to bring the place down with his Jabagirth and then you’ll feel better bout him dying in the pokey!

  • byanyother

    “Maybe Madoff actually realized what a horrible thing he had done and he wanted to go to prison to make up for his crimes?”

    He always expected he’d go to jail. He didn’t deliberately set out to be a criminal. One thing led to another. He’s probably secretly relieved to finally be free of the guilt. I’m sure he wants to spend the rest of his life in the slammer. Otherwise how could he live with himself.

  • D.Z.

    Deafbrown: “OR he thought that with his money he could bribe the whole justice system, only to get fucked and be sent to prison.”

    Yeah, he wasn’t fooling anyone. He’s no Ken Lay or John Gotti.

  • AndrewOwens

    Great post, your escape fantasy is wonderfully detailed.

    It reminds me of the ending of Mamet’s undervalued Spartan, where exiled secret agent Val Kilmer talks briefly with a stranger, who says something like “Well, nice to have met you; I’m heading home” and Kilmer just says “Lucky man” and wanders off into the London streets, where he wanders still, in my imagination, one step ahead of his pursuers. Must watch that movie again.

  • AndrewOwens

    Damn, obviously my post should have a massive spoiler warning.

    (commits sepuku)

  • buckzollo

    roll with it wells, i feel you

  • The Hoyk

    From what I understand, it was his sons who turned him in to the Feds when he confessed to them. Had they the same scruples as their dad, he could very well still be up to his tricks.

    I have to wonder if maybe he already had some of these plans in place and they got thwarted.

  • frankbooth

    Guys like this never think they’ll get caught. It’s denial.

    Very elaborate plan, Wells. You’ve obviously given this some thought. But you forgot the part about going to Florence to teach classical art and occasionally eat people.

  • dangovich

    +1 Marty.

    Madoff, for all his faults, appears to be trying to protect his family from going down with him. If he disappeared, his wife/brother/sons would have to pay the piper.

  • BurmaShave

    When I had some dust-ups with the law during college, my father laid out a plan if I ever got in trouble again. It involved fake passports and a chartered boat to Bermuda, followed by Caracas, etc. It was basically a much more insane version of Brian Cox’s monologue at the end of 25th HOUR. I think every man of a certain age starts brainstorming this type of type.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    Sorry, but when you read about retired Brooklyn teachers who carefully saved for their retirements only to watch it all disappear and leave them with wolves at the door in the middle of the worst economy in 80 years, there’s no room for caged bird sympathies.

    These weren’t all other fat cats or overpaid Hollywood types who got fucked here and, holy shit!, shame on those who fantasize about going on the lam with the spoils of their hard earned years of work.

    One of the worst posts morally, ever.

  • BurmaShave

    *type of thing, rather.

  • hunterd

    …Wells…what?!

    They would have to be “prostitutes who also know how to sail”

    WHAT!??!? Dude, how much pot did you smoke before writing this.

    As for Maddoff, send him to maximum security prison with rapists and murderers. feed him to the fucking wolves.

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    Deathtounge, lighten the fuck up! The last thing I need is for Wells to write the 178th conventional outrage/indignation piece about financial criminals. Wells’ piece might not be in the best taste, but the premise of it is a natural question to ask, and the vast sums Madoff swindled provide license for craziness in imagining the cinematic life-on-the-run that might have happened.

    And yeah! Michael Mann could make a hell of a movie about something like this. I’m embarrassed to admit many years ago I read a bad Grisham novel that tread the same waters and was fairly entertained. Imagine what Mann would do with it…

  • NotImpressed1Yet

    “…Wells…what?!

    They would have to be “prostitutes who also know how to sail”

    WHAT!??!? Dude, how much pot did you smoke before writing this. ”

    I’m envisioning some kind of high-end prostitute finishing school tucked away in Switzerland where they learn all the proper sailing knots, how to ride english and western saddle styles, how to talk about art, etc…

  • lazarus

    I agree with Burma. This is possibly the greatest thing I’ve read on this site, and could only have come from the mind of Jeff Wells, with a little help from Sterling Hayden’s Wanderer.

  • D.Z.

    dangovich: Just his family? I’m now wondering if Madoff wasn’t actually trying to hide from people in high places who’d make a hit on him, if he “outed” them in court in exchange for a plea-bargain.

  • DarthCorleone

    dangovich >> Yeah, that’s exactly what I was going to say. Although I enjoyed this post, it is written from the perspective of a Madoff who does not give a damn about his family, and evidence seems to indicate that he does. I think he realizes he’s near the end of his life – average life expectancy has him dead in the next ten years. The bastard already had a great ride.

    I’ll also echo the sentiment above that – again, although I enjoyed the writing – Madoff deserves ZERO sympathy.

  • TM

    The current Vanity Fair has an intriguing profile of Madoff and explains that his mother was just as unscrupulous as he. Plus he’s dragged his wife into this and she strikes me as the type of person who wouldn’t be happy without the lifestyle — in other words, he probably didn’t run because the wife wouldn’t have gone with him and he didn’t want to leave her taking the fall.

    I would only hope that the courts will take whatever assets he has left and give them to the people he defrauded — starting with the poorest and working up to the wealthy.

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    Maybe Madoff actually realized what a horrible thing he had done and he wanted to go to prison to make up for his crimes?

  • DeafBrownTrashPunk

    OR he thought that with his money he could bribe the whole justice system, only to get fucked and be sent to prison.

  • quarlas

    Great stuff! If Hollywood-Elsewhere.com suddenly goes dark, we’ll all know what happened. Maybe Jeff can occasionally post from his mansion in Vietnam or Madagascar.

  • D.Z.

    Hoyk: I feel sorry for his sons, though. I mean, money aside, it’s not easy turning your own father in like that.

  • D.Z.
  • bridgeman

    “I’d hire three full-time prostitutes to travel with me, but they’d have to be prostitutes who know how to sail.”

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read in ages.

  • Jeremy Fassler

    Madoff will die the same way that bastard Ken Lay did; ruined, sentenced and alone.

  • D.Z.

    Jeremy: Actually, Lay got *lucky*, because a judge overturned his sentence because of his death, since he couldn’t appeal-or some bs like that.

  • vansmith

    Great post, ‘anything worth doing is worth doing for money’ said douglas in wall street, madoff’s millions wont mean much to him or his family, they’ll be shunned. but if you ask him madoff will tell you he’s glad its over…and all those people bitching, read nocera in the ny times who was at the trial. madoff sold ‘exclusivity’ to people who always felt like outsiders no matter how much money they had, but sophisticated investors stayed away from madoff…

  • D.Z.
  • JT

    Sorry, but when you read about retired Brooklyn teachers who carefully saved for their retirements only to watch it all disappear and leave them with wolves at the door in the middle of the worst economy in 80 years, there’s no room for caged bird sympathies.

    DG: Wells is sympathetic to this monster because he’s rich. Period.

  • ZayTonday

    I don’t think he’s actually sympathetic, it’s just that the way this Madoff thing ended was a little anticlimactic and he didn’t really put up a fight.

  • joncro

    ‘Madoff will die the same way that bastard Ken Lay did; ruined, sentenced and alone.’

    Anyone believe Lay is actually dead?

  • rr3333

    REAL life aint a movie. His wife and some of his family are going down with him. He couldnt do what he did all by himself.

    Goodnight Bernie. Goodnight Ruth. Rot in Jail for the next 50 years.

  • arturobandini2

    No, Joncro, I don’t believe for 2 seconds that Ken Lay is dead. IIRC, the family cremated the (a?) body before there could be an autopsy.

  • SaveFarris

    Jeff leaves off the surprise ending: Madoff donates a buttload of cash to the Obama campaign and wins a full pardon ala Marc Rich.

  • Joe M.

    Wouldn’t it be great if this happens:

    Judge: Mr. Madoff, do you have any final words to this court prior to my announcement of your sentence?

    Bernie: “Yes, your Honor… A billion dollars to the guy who springs me!” (mayhem in the courtroom ensues)