n Prosecutors are looking for anyone else – including family members – involved in the Ponzi scheme.
By TOM HAYS and LARRY NEUMEISTER
The Associated Press
NEW YORK – With Bernard Madoff behind bars, investigators have their work cut out for them identifying who else may have been involved in his nearly $65 billion scam.
Among other things, prosecutors must determine what role, if any, Madoff’s wife, brother, two sons and employees played in perhaps the largest Ponzi scheme in history.
“A lot of resources and effort are being expended, both to find assets and to find anyone else who may be responsible for this fraud,” federal prosecutor Marc Litt said at a hearing Thursday where Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 felony counts and was ordered to jail immediately.
Authorities also will have to reconcile Madoff’s statement to the judge that “to the best of my recollection, my fraud began in the early 1990s.” Prosecutors have alleged that the swindle began in the 1980s.
Even though he admitted that his investment advisory business was crooked, Madoff insisted to U.S. District Judge Denny Chin that the other businesses his firm engaged in – those run by his brother and two sons – “were legitimate, profitable and successful in all respects.”
After Madoff’s statement, Assistant U.S. Attorney Marc Litt told Chin the government “does not entirely agree” with Madoff’s description of the crime and went on to say, “At times, his firm would have been unable to operate but for the cash generated from this Ponzi scheme.”
Madoff’s wife, Ruth; brother, Peter; and sons, Mark and Andrew; have not been accused of any wrongdoing. But unhappy investors who lost their fortunes with Madoff believe others were involved.
Turn in fortune
Investors welcomed the swift turn in fortune for the 70-year-old money manager, who in one fell swoop went from living in a $7 million penthouse in midtown Manhattan to a tiny jail cell with cinderblock walls and linoleum floors.
Angry investors packed the federal courtroom to watch Madoff plead guilty to cheating nearly 5,000 investors out of billions of dollars and apologize to his victims.
“I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for what I have done,” Madoff said just before Chin ordered him to prison to await a June 16 sentencing when he will face up to 150 years in prison.
Defense attorney Ira Sorkin argued Madoff deserved to stay out because other high-profile financial criminals accused in multi-billion-dollar frauds were not jailed until sentencing, but Chin disagreed, telling prosecutors he did not even need to hear their bail arguments.
“In light of Mr. Madoff’s age, he has an incentive to flee, he has the means to flee, and thus, he presents a risk of flight,” Chin said.
Madoff’s lawyers on Friday appealed the order to jail their client pending sentencing, arguing that jailing Madoff makes it difficult to consult with him as they prepare for his sentencing.
A federal appeals court will hear the case Thursday.
Court documents filed in the appeal show Madoff and his wife had a net worth of more than $823 million at the end of last year.
The document showed the Madoffs owned four real estate properties worth $22 million, $17 million in cash and a $7 million yacht, among other assets.
In addition to prison time, Madoff could also be fined and ordered to pay restitution to his victims and forfeit any ill-gotten gains.