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Madoff Goes to Jail After Pleading Guilty to Largest Ponzi Scheme

Posted on 12 Mar 2009

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Bernard Madoff was jailed after admitting he masterminded the largest Ponzi scheme in history, an epic swindle that may have reached $65 billion and made him the symbol of investor distrust in a global recession.

Madoff, 70, entered his guilty plea in Manhattan federal court three months after confessing to relatives that his firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, was “one big lie.” U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ordered that Madoff, who has been free on $10 million bond, should be jailed while awaiting sentencing, scheduled for June 16. He faces as much as 150 years in prison.

“I never invested the funds in securities as promised,” Madoff told Chin at a hearing today in a courtroom packed with victims and members of the media. He said he was “deeply sorry” and knew what he did was criminal.

Madoff told Chin that in the early 1990s, when the U.S. was in a recession, he felt “compelled’” to provide the returns he promised investors. He said when the Securities and Exchange Commission asked about it, he lied to the SEC.

Madoff’s guilty plea -- he repeated the word 11 times this morning -- marks the downfall of a once-acclaimed money manager who told the world his fortune came through an eponymous firm that specialized in making markets, trading securities and advising wealthy clients.