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Prison bureau refutes story that Madoff has cancer

Wall Street swindler Bernard Madoff has not been diagnosed with cancer, the Federal Bureau of Prisons said Monday, in response to a report that Madoff had told fellow prison inmates he was dying of the disease.

The New York Post reported Madoff, 71, who since June has been serving a 150-year sentence at a Butner, N.C., federal prison, has been telling inmates he does not have long to live, the newspaper said, citing unnamed prison sources.

"Bernie Madoff is not terminally ill, and has not been diagnosed with cancer," said Federal Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley in an e-mail statement.

The Post story is "full of inaccuracies," according to Billingsley, who said the bureau is not able to address all the details.

The Post quoted one inmate at the Butner Medium Federal Correctional Institution as saying Madoff was taking "about 20 pills a day" and "not doing very well." The newspaper said that earlier this year there had been speculation that Madoff was suffering from pancreatic cancer.

Madoff lawyer Ira Sorkin Monday declined to comment on his client's "medical or emotional condition." Legal experts said that if Madoff had cancer, it could have had a bearing on his decision to plead guilty to massive criminal fraud.

Madoff pleaded guilty in March to orchestrating a worldwide Ponzi scheme investigators say bilked investors of $13 billion to $21 billion over 20 years.

The Post also reported that various "gangs" at the prison were trying to recruit Madoff, while some inmates regularly cook "sandwich wraps" for him at their cells.

Larry Levine, a former prison inmate and founder of Wall Street Prison Consultants, which prepares people for incarceration, said he would not be surprised if Madoff were finding friends.

Levine said Butner is known as a "cheese factory," a nickname alluding to the many federal informants, or "rats," incarcerated there.

As to toasting sandwiches, the Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman said inmates are not permitted to prepare food in their cells, though soup, beans and other items may be procured in the prison commissary and brought back to cells.

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