Updated from 11:02 a.m. EDT
Bernard Madoff formally pleaded guilty to all 11 felony charges brought by prosecutors in a New York courthouse Thursday and will await sentencing in jail.
Madoff, 70, told the court he was "deeply sorry" and "ashamed" by his actions after stating he was "guilty" when asked to enter a plea. The embattled money manager and former
chairman is expected to be in prison for the rest of his life, as the maximum prison sentence carries a term of 150 years.
For the first time since his December arrest, Madoff admitted that he concealed fraud by sending false information to his clients. Madoff said he felt compelled to meet client investment expectations, which resulted in the massive Ponzi scheme that damaged thousands of investors.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin remanded Madoff into custody, and he will await sentencing in prison, as opposed to his $7 million Manhattan penthouse. Sentencing is expected to be June 16.
During the hearing, Madoff said he was painfully aware that he has hurt investors and made a point to acknowledge that the businesses run by his brother and sons were legitimate, according to
The biggest victims of Madoff's scheme include international banking institutions Britain's
Royal Bank of Scotland
Man Group PLC
( STD), France's
Among Madoff's other reported victims are actor Kevin Bacon and his wife, actress Kyra Sedgwick, as well as a charity linked to director Steven Spielberg and his DreamWorks partner Jeffrey Katzenberg, and screenwriter Eric Roth, whose credits include
The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Adriane Biondo, 41, of Los Angeles, said five members of her family were affected by the fraud, including elderly relatives who were ruined. She went to court to see Madoff plead guilty and said she wanted the judge to send him to prison immediately. Madoff posted bail after his arrest and has spent the months before his guilty plea at his Upper East Side penthouse.
"For him to be under penthouse arrest at this point ... is just not fair," she said.
Madoff's current bail status had "really infuriated
everyone," said Matt Weinstein, a motivational speaker who lost the bulk of his savings in the scheme. "People can't even afford rent anymore," Weinstein said. "He can't go on in this palace of denial."
In three months, Madoff has gone from a man known mostly as a pioneer of electronic trading in securities to an symbol for disreputable money managers who live a life of affluence while fleecing those who entrust their life savings to their schemes.
The FBI claimed Madoff admitted to his sons months ago that his once-revered investment fund was all a big lie, a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that wiped out life fortunes, school trusts and charities and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide.
The size of the scandal has made him an international symbol of greed and deception in difficult economic times. But it remains in dispute.
Prosecutors filed papers Tuesday saying Madoff's investment company reported a total balance of $64.8 billion in November even though it actually had only a small fraction of that amount.
Investigators say the true amount lost by investors may be between $10 billion and $17 billion and the larger estimates by Madoff include the false profits prosecutors say he generated with tens of thousands of bogus account statements cataloguing steady profits.
So far, authorities have located only about $1 billion in assets.
In a hearing Tuesday, the judge said he had been contacted by clients of Madoff's investment firm who complained -- mistakenly -- that he was benefiting from a plea deal. Prosecutors said there was no agreement that would have given him a shot at a lighter sentence in exchange for cooperating with investigators.
"There is no plea bargain here," the judge said.
Despite the plea, investigators say they still would face the daunting task of unraveling how Madoff pulled off the fraud for decades without being caught. They suspect his family and his top lieutenants, who helped run his operation from its midtown Manhattan headquarters, may have been involved.
In court documents, prosecutors have indicated that low-level employees were in on the scam and may be cooperating.
Court papers say Madoff hired many people with little or no training or experience in the securities industry to serve as a secretive "back office" for his investment advisory business.
Prosecutors say he generated or had employees generate tens of thousands of account statements and other documents, operating a massive Ponzi scheme, a scam in which people are persuaded to invest in a fraudulent operation that promises unusually high returns.
The money Madoff received was never invested but was used by him, his business and others or, as occurs in Ponzi schemes, was paid out to early investors, prosecutors said.
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