An inmate serving time in the same prison as Bernard Madoff allegedly fractured the convicted Ponzi schemer's ribs and broke his nose in a reported December assault that prison officials at the time denied ever happened, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Authorities continue to deny that an assault took place against the 71-year-old Madoff, who was moved Dec. 18 from his cell to a low-security medical center at the North Carolina prison where he is serving a 150-year sentence for his $50 billion fraud.
Despite those denials, the WSJ reports today that three sources familiar with the situation told the paper that an attack did indeed occur against Madoff at the hands of another inmate.
At the time, initial reports indicated Madoff was assaulted, but prison officials dispelled rumors of an attack and said that Madoff suffered from dizziness and hypertension.
A current inmate at the Butler facility serving time on drug charges who the WSJ reports was "familiar with [Madoff's] condition at the time" told the paper that Madoff was treated for fractured ribs, facial and head lacerations and a broken nose. However, the WSJ says, "the details of the injuries couldn't be independently verified."
A former felon also serving time at the prison on drug charges confirmed the assault to the WSJ and said the argument focused on money the alleged attacker reportedly believed Madoff owed him. A third individual whom the WSJ described as close to the situation also confirmed the attack, but the paper disclosed no details about the source.
One of Madoff's lawyers, Ira Sorkin, affirmed his client's health problems as cited by the prison at the time, and did not comment on the allegations Madoff suffered a beating, telling the WSJ, "I don't comment on prison conditions or his family. That's my policy."
The Bureau of Prisons told the WSJ it investigated the alleged assault – a probe during which Madoff himself told officials he was not attacked.
"In December he told staff he was not assaulted, and an investigation was completed following his statements, which corroborated his statements," Bureau of Prisons spokeswoman Traci Billingsley told the WSJ. "Not one inmate has told staff he was assaulted."
Asked specifically about the likelihood Madoff could have been attacked by an assailant described by a current inmate as "a beefy man serving time for a drug conviction," Bilingsley told the WSJ it would be "virtually impossible" because that felon lived in a unit separate from Madoff and both units are locked down at night.