In 1968 after he left school, William Nasi went to work at Bernie Madoff’s advisory firm, then he quit to drift around. He eventually ended up working in a shop in Times Square, until one night, he “got caught up in a fight and suffered an eye injury that severely damaged his sight.” After that, he went back to visit his “old pal” Bernie to see if he could give him a job. “I’ll do anything, anywhere, any time,” he might have said. Bernie’s brother, Peter, who would later claim he had nothing to do with his brother’s multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, was thrilled. Did he have a job for a sightless guy? Hell yes, did he ever. And so William started working as the 17th floor’s personal messenger, shuttling around stock and bond certificates in his usual uniform of army fatigues.
Sometimes he heard and saw strange things: Bernie, at 7:30 in the morning, vacuuming the floor by himself; shouting coming from behind closed doors: “Until your name is on that door you keep your f—king mouth shut.” It was weird, Nasi thought sometimes, that Bernie never asked him for receipts; the way he got all bent out of shape whenever the S.E.C came to visit.
You’d think the moral decay around him would have taken a toll on a character like William. That he would wish for a rain to come and wash the trash off the sidewalk. But no. He got bonuses at Christmas and Easter (“And I was the low man on the totem pole,” he told the Journal). And that was that. Until the end:
On December 12, the day after Madoff was arrested, Mr. Nasi went back to the office to collect his things in a duffle bag. “I kept telling myself, ‘You’ve got to be tough as nails,’” he says. But he exited the lobby “crying like a baby.”