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 Nasdaq (NDAQ) chairman may be in prison for the rest of his life, as the maximum 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.
(NDAQ) 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 CNBC.
(NDAQ) The biggest victims of Madoff's scheme include international banking institutions Britain's HSBC Holdings (Stock Quote: HBC) (HBC) , Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) (Stock Quote: RBS), Man Group PLC, Spain's Grupo Santander (Stock Quote: STD) (STD) , France's BNP Paribas and Japan's Nomura Holdings (Stock Quote: NMR) (NMR) .
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 Forrest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. Also wiped out were several charitable foundations, including one run by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel.
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.
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 size of the scandal has made him an international symbol of greed and deception in difficult economic times. But it remains in dispute.
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.
"There is no plea bargain here," the judge said.
In court documents, prosecutors have indicated that low-level employees were in on the scam and may be cooperating.
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.