Madoff sent to jail after guilty plea
Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to perpetrating one of the biggest frauds in U.S. history and may very well spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Madoff’s guilty pleas to 11 counts, including fraud, perjury and money laundering,came without an agreement, and he faces up to 150 years in prison when he is sentenced in June. Judge Denny Chin ordered Madoff immediately hauled off to jail, ending Madoff’s house arrest at the multi-million-dollar Manhattan penthouse he says he is entitled to keep despite the billions of dollars bilked out of investors.
Before his fall, Madoff had been admired by many and his counted celebrities, charities and huge pension funds as clients, including Elie Wiesel, the 1986 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
But that changed in December, when a souring economy led Madoff, 70, to turn himself in to the FBI, telling the agents the whole thing had been a fraud.
He said he never invested any of the money, but simply put it in a savings account. He used that account to pay some investors, who thought they were earning huge returns because of Madoff’s shrewd investment strategies.
Prosecutors say Madoff was actually running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
Mr. Madoff apologized in court, saying he was “deeply sorry and ashamed.”
“When I began my Ponzi scheme I believed it would end shortly and I would be able to extricate myself and my clients from the scheme,” he said. “However, this proved difficult, and ultimately impossible, and as the years went by I realized my arrest and this day would inevitably come.”
Despite the billions lost in the scandal, Madoff has sued to keep his $7 million Manhattan penthouse and another $62 million in assets. His suit claims he is entitled to them because they are unrelated to the Ponzi scheme.
Madoff’s apology meant little to DeWitt Baker, an investor who says he lost more than $1 million.
“I’d stone him to death,” Mr. Baker told the Associated Press.