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White-Collar Crime

Judge Accepts Madoff Guilty Plea, Revokes Bail

Posted Mar 12, 2009 9:53 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Bernard Madoff has pleaded guilty to operating a Ponzi scheme that cost investors billions of dollars in losses.

Judge Denny Chin accepted the plea and ordered Madoff to report to jail, prompting applause in the courtroom, report StreetInsider and the Associated Press. The Am Law Daily has a live blog of the events.

"I am deeply sorry and ashamed," Madoff said, according to an account by CNBC. "I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done."

Madoff said his investment business was a fraud, but his other businesses—run by his brother and sons—were all legitimate. Madoff's crimes were discovered after he confessed to his sons, Andrew and Mark, and they alerted their lawyer, according to earlier reports.

"I knew what I was doing was wrong and criminal, but I thought I could do it quickly and extricate my clients from it," Madoff said, according to an account on the Am Law Daily. Madoff said his aim was to satisfy client expectations.

Madoff said he led clients to believe he was purchasing stock with their money, but beginning in the 1990s, he deposited the cash into an account at Chase Manhattan in New York. Madoff said he used that money to pay clients who wanted to withdraw funds, the Am Law Daily reports.

Lawyers for the government differed with that account, contending the Ponzi scheme began in the 1980s, according to an Am Law Daily post.

The first victim to speak challenged Madoff to look him in the eye, the Am Law Daily says. Only three were allowed to speak before Chin cut them off.

The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has the full plea allocution read at today's hearing.

Sentencing is set for June 16.

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