Bernard Madoff, accused mastermind of a $50 billion financial fraud, is expected to plead guilty on Thursday to 11 criminal charges that could put him in jail for the rest of his life.
He was charged in court papers with securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, false statements and perjury among other charges. U.S. prosecutor Marc Litt said there was no plea agreement with Madoff, accused of bilking thousands of investors worldwide over many years.
The prosecutor told U.S. District Judge Denny Chin at a hearing that Madoff could face up to 150 years in prison under federal sentencing guidelines. The judge said he would sentence Madoff in several months in the event of a guilty plea.
In court, Madoff's attorney Ira Lee Sorkin said there was an expectation that Madoff, 70, would plead guilty on Thursday to the criminal charges.
At the court hearing in New York over potential conflicts of interest for Sorkin, Madoff said Yes, I am when asked by the judge whether he was satisfied with his attorney continuing to represent him.
U.S. prosecutors have said Madoff, free on $10 million bail but under 24-hour house arrest and electronic surveillance in his luxury Manhattan apartment, ran a massive Ponzi scheme. In a Ponzi scheme early investors are paid with money from new investors.
The purported swindle ran for decades with consistent returns of between 10 and 12 percent, but collapsed in last year's market meltdown.
(Reporting by Grant McCool and Martha Graybow; Additional reporting by Edith Honan)