Madoff due in Manhattan court for plea

Prosecutors now say disgraced financier stole $64.8 billion from over 2 dozen investors in 20-year scam.

madoff faces media 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
madoff faces media 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff will return to a downtown Manhattan courtroom Thursday to respond to the charges against him - and face the angry words of more than two dozen victims of his multibillion swindle. A lawyer for Madoff, 70, said in court this week that his client would plead guilty to charges that his investment business was nothing more than a pyramid scheme. The 20-year scam wiped out thousands of investors, including an array of Jewish philanthropists and institutions. Prosecutors say that Madoff, who cultivated his investors from a close-knit circle of social acquaintances, engineered an intricate fraud complete with false account statements and international money transfers designed to fool investors and securities regulators into believing he was making legitimate trades. He reportedly told investigators in December that he had stolen $50b. from clients, but prosecutors raised that estimate to $64.8b. in court documents filed on Tuesday. Madoff has already agreed to a civil judgment that would require him to pay restitution to his victims. Federal investigators have recovered about $1b. in real assets - including art - immediately available to repay investors. Madoff, a former chairman of New York's NASDAQ exchange, is charged with 11 criminal counts, including securities fraud and money laundering. He has not been offered a plea bargain by the government and faces up to 150 years in prison if he pleads guilty on all counts. US Attorney Lev Dassin said the investigation - which might expand to include Madoff's wife and family members who worked with him - was continuing and did not rule out additional charges being filed, even after Madoff entered his plea. US District Judge Denny Chin, who is presiding over the case, said Tuesday that he would allow investors to address the court on the subject of whether Madoff should be allowed to remain free on bail until he is sentenced. Madoff has been living under house arrest at his posh Upper East Side apartment since December.