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Bernie Madoff says he’s not a bad guy, describes prison as a ‘college campus’

FILE - JANUARY 22, 2014: According to reports, Bernie Madoff has suffered a heart attack in federal prison where he is serving 150 years in prison for defrauding customers as part of a $17 billion Ponzi scheme January 22, 2014. NEW YORK - MARCH 10: Financier Bernard Madoff leaves Manhattan Federal court March 10, 2009 in New York City. Madoff attended a court hearing regarding the conflicting status of his legal representation in his multi-billion dollar fraud allegations. His lawyer, Ira Sorkin, has told a judge his client is expected to plead guilty to 11 counts including money laundering, perjury and securities, mail and wire fraud. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
Bernie Madoff is serving 150 years in federal prison for defrauding customers as part of a $17 billion Ponzi scheme.Mario Tama/Getty Images

Bernie Madoff, the man convicted of operating one of the largest Ponzi schemes in Wall Street history, gave a lengthy interview to Politico, where he spoke about life in prison, his crime, politics, and warned about other schemers. Here are a few highlights:

Madoff compared prison to college

Madoff said the medium-security prison in Butner, N.C. where he is locked up is like a college campus. He spends his days watching TV, listening to news on the radio, and makes about $40 per month tidying up the living area.

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"It's actually very pretty," he said. "More like a college campus." He added, "Everything's provided for you."

Is there another Bernie Madoff out there?

Madoff seems to think so and said “there’s always going to be bad players like myself.” He told Politico he doesn’t believe regulators are able to keep up with schemes like his.

The financial losses have been exaggerated

While regulators put the amount of money lost by victims at $20 billion, Madoff puts the figure closer to $10 billion. While admitting what he did was wrong, Madoff also said he “did a lot of good for people” by earning them large sums of money.

"I don't believe I'm a bad person. I did a lot of good for people. I made huge sums of money for some people," he said.

He says he didn’t betray the Jewish community

Many of Madoff’s victims were members of the Jewish community, including several Jewish charities. Madoff said he didn’t feel he betrayed them.

Pressed on the issue he said: "I don't feel that I betrayed the Jews, I betrayed people," before adding, "I betrayed people that put trust in me -- certainly the Jewish community. I've made more money for Jewish people and charities than I've lost."

Read the full story here.

The former investment manager was sentenced to 150 years in prison in June 2009 for a crime a federal judge called an act of “extraordinary evil.” Madoff confessed to losing billions of his investors’ funds in a Ponzi scheme, swindling middle-class investors and some of the country’s wealthiest families and prominent philanthropists out of their fortunes. Boston was one of several focal points in Madoff’s two-decade fraud, leaving a long list of victims in the Bay State.

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