Madoff heads to court with plea in the works

Bernard Madoff, expected to plead guilty this week to charges of running Wall Street’s biggest fraud, will appear in court on Tuesday for a judge to assess a potential conflict of interest for his lead attorney.

Madoff, out on $10-million bail but under 24-hour house arrest and electronic surveillance in his luxury Manhattan apartment, last appeared on January 14 for a bail hearing. Tuesday’s hearing is scheduled for 3pm (19:00GMT).

Manhattan federal court officials have reserved an assembly room with an audio/visual feed in anticipation of hosting some of his former investors and frenzied media coverage on Thursday when the disgraced financier attends a plea proceeding.

Metal barricades were erected on the sidewalk across the street from the courthouse to establish an area for TV crews.

A court document signed last Friday by prosecutors and Madoff’s attorney indicated Madoff would waive an indictment by a grand jury and plead guilty to criminal charges before Judge Denny Chin in the United States District Court.

Other court filings showed the judge approved a government request for bilked victims to be heard in court, but they must give the prosecutor’s office 24-hour notice, by 10am (14:00GMT) on Wednesday.

Madoff was charged with one count of securities fraud when he was arrested on December 11, but has yet to formally answer it.

Under the terms of his bail, the former Nasdaq stock market chairperson who authorities say confessed to running a ”giant Ponzi scheme” over decades, may leave his penthouse for court appearances only.

It will be several weeks or even months before Madoff is sentenced, but given his age (70) he will likely spend the rest of his life in prison.

”What we are talking about here is out of the penthouse and into the penitentiary,” said Michael Robinson, head of public affairs at Levick Strategic Communications in Washington and a former spokesperson for the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

”One of the signature issues of the last few months is who is to blame? … Investors have to see people held accountable with penalties commensurate with the crime.”

A Ponzi scheme is one in which early investors are paid with the money of new clients. Madoff had thousands of investors worldwide. He told his sons the losses amounted to $50-billion, according to court papers, but the figure could include false profits.

US prosecutors asked to be heard over a potential conflict of interest for attorney Ira Lee Sorkin. The lawyer said one issue was his representation of two Madoff-linked accountants in a 1992 case brought by the SEC. Another was his father having had a retirement account with Madoff before he died in 2001, Sorkin said. — Reuters

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Grant Mccool
⚽️Football: RBNY, Liverpool. gegenpressing; STH Red Bull Arena. Maplewood, NJ. Long-time Reuters journalist (not soccer). Opinions my own.⚽️ Grant Mccool has over 396 followers on Twitter.

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