I almost, almost feel sorry for Bernie Madoff, who apparently still has enough resources that he was able to hire, over the weekend, Herb Hoelter, the prison consultant to financiers Mike Milken, Ivan Boesky, former Sotheby’s chairman Al Taubman, and disgraced NFL player Michael Vick.
Hoelter has managed to work a few miracles in his day. He helped to negotiate what could have been a stiff prison sentence into community service art-world icon Peter Max, when Max was charged with income tax evasion back in 1996. Hoelter also convinced a judge to let Vick live under house arrest at his home in Hampton, Virginia, after Vick finished serving a 23-month sentence for dogfighting. (As part of his sentence, Vick is also working a construction job for 40 hours a week, at $10 an hour.)
What Hoelter can possibly do for Madoff isn’t yet clear, but he doesn’t have a lot of wiggle room. As the Times Online reported on Saturday, the 150-year prison sentence Madoff was given for orchestrating Wall Street’s biggest fraud makes a minimum-security facility an impossibility. His shot at a medium-security prison is looking bleak, too. At least, Judge Denny Chin of U.S. District Court in New York, who called Madoff’s crimes “extraordinarily evil” at his sentencing early last week, ruled out Madoff’s number-one choice: the medium-security Otisville Correctional Institute, about an hour outside of New York.
In fact, for Madoff’s own protection, he’s likelier to find himself in the “supermax” prison of Florence, Colorado, which is home to violent offenders, including rapists, murderers, terrorists, and white supremacy groups — all of whom are allowed out of their cells just one hour each day, as well as kept from mixing with the general prison population.
“[Madoff] could cause a lot of problems because it’s a very high-profile case,” said Ed Bales, another prison consultant, to the Times. “People may react very badly to him.”