Bernard L. Madoff was handcuffed and led off to prison for the rest of his life this morning after admitting to a massive Ponzi scheme before a courtroom filled with angry investors.
Madoff, 70, pleaded guilty to 11 counts in a criminal information whose maximum sentences total 150 years.
During an allocution he read in a steady voice, but with his eyes blinking rapidly, Madoff told Southern District Judge Denny Chin that he was "so deeply sorry and ashamed" for his crimes.
Madoff's attorney, Ira Sorkin of Dickstein Shapiro, who had successfully kept his client out on bail since his Dec. 11 arrest, was fighting an uphill battle as he argued that Madoff is not a flight risk and should be allowed to stay in his Park Avenue penthouse until sentencing on June 16.
Sorkin invoked a list of other notorious white-collar defendants who have been allowed to stay out of jail pending sentencing, including John Rigas of Adelphia, Bernard Ebbers of WorldCom and Jeffrey Skilling of Enron. But Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Litt did not have to say a word on bail, as Judge Chin had made up his mind.
"I don't need to hear from the government," the judge said, for with Madoff facing the equivalent of a life sentence, "he has incentive to flee, he has the means to flee and he is therefore a threat to flee."
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