A ‘sorry and ashamed’ Bernard Madoff pleads guilty
By LARRY NEUMEISTER and TOM HAYS, Associated Press Writers
1 min ago
NEW YORK – Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he carried out an epic fraud that robbed investors around the world of billions of dollars, admitting he began operating a giant Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s in response to a recession.
“I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed,” he told U.S. District Judge Denny Chin.
He said that he started the fraud but that he believed it would be short and he could extricate himself.
“As the years went by, I realized my risk, and this day would inevitably come,” he said in a steady voice. “I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for my crimes.”
The fraud turned a revered money man into an overnight global disgrace whose name became synonymous with the current economic meltdown.
Madoff described his crimes after he entered a guilty plea to all 11 counts he was charged with, including fraud, perjury, theft from an employee benefit plan, and two counts of international money laundering.
Prosecutors say the disgraced financier, who has spent three months under house arrest in his $7 million in Manhattan penthouse, could face a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison at sentencing.
The plea came three months after the FBI claimed Madoff admitted to his sons that his once-revered investment fund was all a big lie — a Ponzi scheme that was in the billions of dollars. Since his arrest in December, the scandal has turned the 70-year-old former Nasdaq chairman into a pariah who has worn a bulletproof vest to court.
The scheme evaporated life fortunes, wiped out charities and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide. Victims big and small were swindled by Madoff, from elderly Florida retirees to actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.