Connect with us

Prison News

Bernie Madoff, Columbo Crime Family, & Prison Etiquette



CNN–Money Photo

In 2009, Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to masterminding the biggest financial scam in financial history ($65 billion). Since Madoff went to prison, two famous actors have portrayed him, Richard Drefuss in a television series and now Robert De Niro in a current HBO movie.

How has the mastermind fared in prison?

The press has reported about the prison “friendship” between Bernie Madoff and Carmine John Persico Jr., the boss of the Colombo crime family. Persico’s nickname is the “The Snake.”The friendship started soon after Bernie Madoff’s arrival in prison.

Bernie Madoff was avidly following his case. He went to the prison’s television room to see the latest news about him. Madoff violated prison’s unwritten rules by changing the show watched to “60 Minutes,’ without asking the other inmates. One inmate was upset, argued with Madoff, and slapped Madoff’s face.

Luckily for Madoff, Carmine Persico, observed the incident , and decided to help Madoff. Persico sent a few of his friends to intervene, and after that, Madoff watched what he wanted without any objection by other inmates.

After that incident, both men, in their 80’s, became friends. Persico mentored Madoff about prison’s unwritten rules. Madoff was lucky that Persico intervened for him. First time nonviolent offenders are at risk for violating the unwritten rules of daily prison life. Any mistake can result in violence.

On a personal note, I was fortunate to meet during my first two weeks of incarceration in Maryland, an inmate who had spent time in American and Russian prisons. Because I was much older and a first time nonviolent offender, he took the time to explain the basic unwritten rules of any prison. His extensive knowledge and varied experiences saved me from dangerous situations and confrontations over the next 15 months.

With knowledge and preparation before entering prison, a new inmate can avoid the existing pitfalls that await any first time inmate. For example, Rule 24 from my, “25 Basic Rules on How to Survive Prison and Jail”, discusses the importance of respect among inmates in any institution. It is crucial to respect the space, the past, the house (cell), and the food of other inmates. Never crowd another inmate’s space, while talking to him. It is considered disrespectful to question another inmate about his past or his crime. Do not look into other inmates’ cells. If you are disrespectful to another inmate, you will probably face a violent response.

For additional information about preparing and surviving prison, contact Bradley Schwartz, Prison Consultant and Founder of, at or
e-mail, [email protected]

Continue Reading

Leave a Reply

2 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
PrsonP@th Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Notify of