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Madoff Pleads Guilty To Massive Investment Fraud

By Deborah Tedford (NPR)

U.S. Attorney's Press Release (PDF), The Charges (PDF), The Potential Sentence (PDF)

Former investment manager Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to 11 criminal charges for allegedly scamming thousands of investors in a Ponzi scheme that spanned at least two decades.

He could be sentenced to as many as 150 years in prison, according to prosecutors.

At least 25 investors who lost money to Madoff have asked U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to be allowed to speak.

Chin had said investors will be given a chance to challenge the court's decision on whether to accept the plea to securities fraud and perjury, among other charges. The judge also will let burned investors challenge his decision whether Madoff should be allowed to await sentencing in his $7 million Manhattan penthouse or immediately go to prison.

Chin will sentence Madoff at a later date.

Madoff is accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme from to at least the 1980s until his arrest Dec. 11. Prosecutors said he recruited investors to open trading accounts with his companies by telling them he would use their money to buy shares of common stock, options and other securities of well-known companies. Instead, prosecutors claim, Madoff pocketed the money, using money from new investors to pay established clients.

Court documents state that from 2002 to 2008, Madoff caused more than $250 million of his clients' money to be transferred between the accounts of his businesses. "Madoff directed these funds transfers, in part, to give the appearance that he was conducting securities transactions in Europe on behalf of the investors when, in fact, he was not conducting such transactions," the criminal information states.

Madoff promised some clients annual returns of up to 46 percent per year, court documents state. Prosecutors said he cheated investors — including friends, retirement funds, charities and nonprofit organizations worldwide — of more than $60 billion.

The information charges Madoff with securities fraud; investment adviser fraud; mail fraud; wire fraud; money laundering; making false statements; perjury; making false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission; and theft from an employee benefit plan.

The former trader has been confined to his luxury apartment since being released on a $10 million bond after his arrest.

This program aired on March 12, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

Lisa Tobin Twitter Senior Podcast Producer
Lisa Tobin was formerly WBUR's senior podcast producer.

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