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Was it something we said, Bernie, that makes you want to leave us?

And I thought we were getting along so well.

Like most of you, I'm a chauvinistic cheerleader for North Carolina, especially for the Triangle, and it is, frankly, a blow to the old ego to learn that Bernie Madoff is trying to leave.

Madoff, the Ponzi schemer extraordinaire, has asked the president to reduce his sentence so he can leave our beautiful state. For the past decade, home for Bernie has been the Federal Correctional Complex at Butner, and every time I drive past I give him a shout out from my moving car.

"What it is, B?" or something like that.

The Saunders Report put in a request to interview him two years ago, after a mate who'd done time there told me that Madoff had cornered the prison market on hot chocolate, and anyone wanting some had to pay jacked up prices to him.

Tight-lipped prison officials would neither confirm nor deny that Madoff had made off with all of the hot chocolate, but the story was too good to ignore.

The prison's website said inmates can only purchase eight packets of hot chocolate at one time, which would, theoretically, make it hard to monopolize the Swiss Miss.

Of course, who's to say that some of Madoff's minions didn't go to the prison commissary and make dummy purchases on his behalf?

Besides, does anyone really think that a man who ran the largest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history and ruined the lives of friends and strangers alike would be deterred by a rule? What're they going to do - give him some more time?

Tony, another friend who'd been an involuntary guest at the Butner Biltmore, likened the prison to a college campus, and it is indeed known as the "crown jewel" of the federal prison system. It sits on a winding road bounded by woods and wildlife.

Looks just like a college campus, too - except for the barbed wire atop the fences. And the guard tower.

Ralph Griffith, an inmate whose seven years there overlapped with Madoff's sentence, wrote in his 2018 memoir Monkey House that Bernie spends most of his time "reading horrible novels and watching rap videos" with the homies.

No wonder he thinks the president might help him.

You see rappers, specifically those possessing the intellectual depth of a Moon Pie and who worship at the altar of conspicuous consumption, have lionized Donald Trump for decades - in song and actions.

Oh, you thought Kanye was the first one?

It's likely that Bernie, after watching the Yo! MTV Raps Memorial Day marathon and hearing countless rappers spittin' idolatrous odes to Trump, put down his mug of Swiss Miss, hopped excitedly off his bunk and turned to the nearest dude passing by.

Bernie: Say, homes. Who is this dude "Trump" y'all keep rappin' about?

Dude: Ah man, we love that dude. He's like the Wizard up in this piece. If you ever want to go home, homie, you need to go see him.

According to former residents, Butner seems like not-the-worst place to spend one's last years. That's especially true when you consider that there are thousands of people who'd love nothing better than to bump into Madoff in the checkout line of the local Winn Dixie or Dairy Queen.

Even if Bernie gets no relief and has to do the full bid, chances are that some of those who lost their life savings to him will leave instructions in their wills for their great-great grandchildren to be outside the prison gates on Nov. 14, 2139, waiting to exact revenge.

I'm joking, of course: they can't leave a will because Madoff has already taken everything they had.




Meet Barry Saunders

For over 20 years, Barry was a columnist for The News & Observer in Raleigh, NC. He also wrote for other publications, such as the Atlanta Constitution and the Richmond County Daily Journal. Often described as powerfully honest and illustratively funny, Barry's writing is both loved and hated by readers- sometimes simultaneously.  


Want more? Get your own copy of one of Barry's published books featuring reader favorites (and not so favorites) from his years writing columns for The News & Observer. Titled "Do Unto Others...And then Run" and "...And The Horse You Rode In On Saunders!", they're full of guaranteed entertainment. 


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