Bernard Madoff, once one of the most respected men on Wall Street, pleaded guilty today to running the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
Madoff, who has been free on bail, although restricted to his Manhattan apartment, since his arrest in December, was ordered immediately jailed while he awaits sentencing as a flight risk. U.S. District Judge Denny Chin scheduled the sentencing hearing for June 16. Madoff's first stop is the Metropolitan Detention Center in Manhattan, currently also home to fellow accused hedge fund fraudster Arthur Nadel. Madoff faces as much as 150 years in prison, and will likely have to face the ire of his victims at the hearing; Chin has previously ruled that they will have an opportunity to address the court before sentencing.
Prosecutors are also seeking the forfeiture of some $170 billion they said moved through Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities since the Ponzi scheme began almost 30 years ago.
Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 counts, including securities fraud, investment adviser fraud, adviser fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, false statements, perjury, false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, theft from an employee benefit plan and three counts of money laundering. The criminal information against him did not include a conspiracy charge; Madoff’s refusal to accept one apparently the stumbling block that kept him from a plea deal.
“I never invested the funds in securities as promised,” Madoff admitted at this morning’s hearing. “As the years went by, I realized my risk and that this day would inevitably come.”
He also apologized during what was described as a solemn, 10-minute speech to the court.
“I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed,” he said.
The courtroom crowd applauded as Madoff was led out.
Prosecutors and investigators do not believe Madoff’s claim that he acted alone; they are continuing their investigations, albeit without Madoff’s help, in an effort to recover more money for victims as well as to see whether Madoff had help.
Bernard Madoff's Confession: In His Own Words