Moving closer to a plea bargain with federal prosecutors, accused Ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff has agreed to waive his right to a grand jury review of the charges against him.
The agreement, filed yesterday by prosecutors and Madoff’s lawyer in New York federal court, is an indication that the accused hedge fund fraudster is close to a deal. His legal team and prosecutors have been in talks about a plea arrangement since his arrest in December on charges that he ran the largest Ponzi scheme in history, with the figure originally put at $50 billion, although some have cast doubt on the number.
Madoff has already partially settled the civil charges filed against him by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A further step toward a plea bargain could come next week, at a hearing to review potential conflicts of interest on the part of Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Sorkin. Sorkin’s parents had been investors with Madoff until their deaths several years ago, and it is unclear whether Madoff will be allowed to plead guilty if the conflicts issue is unresolved.
Speculation that Madoff was nearing a deal spiked on Wednesday, when the conflicts hearing was postponed just hours after prosecutors had requested it. Prosecutors have until March 13 to bring an indictment against Madoff or hold a preliminary hearing.