Lawyers for Bernard Madoff argued that a U.S. court erred in jailing him pending sentencing and will ask an appeals court to reinstate his bail and house arrest, according to court papers filed on Friday.
Madoff, 70, was jailed on Thursday after pleading guilty to running the biggest investment fraud in Wall Street history.
His sentencing on 11 criminal charges is scheduled for June 16, when he could be imprisoned for the rest of his life.
A three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in New York will hear oral arguments on March 19 on two motions by Madoff's lawyers, a court official said.
One motion aims to suspend an order made at Thursday's plea proceeding by U.S. District Judge Denny Chin to revoke Madoff's $10 million bail. Madoff was arrested last December 11.
The panel will also hear a motion from the lawyers to reinstate bail conditions so Madoff can return to house arrest in his $7 million Manhattan penthouse.
The District Court erroneously failed to release Mr. Madoff because the evidence clearly shows that Mr. Madoff is not a flight risk and does not pose a threat to the community, a court document said. It said Madoff does not have the means to flee.
Madoff's personal assets and assets of his New York firm, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, have been frozen.
The lawyers argued that Madoff needs to be released so he could contribute to resolving a dispute over restitution and/or forfeiture.
Prosecutors have said that as of November 30, 2008, Madoff's client accounts purportedly had $64.8 billion, but in reality held only a small fraction of that.
They are seeking $170.8 billion in forfeiture from Madoff, a sum they estimate of all the money and property that can be traced back to the fraud. They have not said how they arrived at that figure and Madoff's lawyers have challenged it as grossly overstated.
Mr Madoff's contribution to this effort will be severely hampered, if not altogether eliminated, if he is remanded, the lawyers said in the filing with the appeals court. They said Madoff was the only person responsible for the crimes and, as a result, is the only person with the knowledge needed to decipher the relevant records.
The government has until Tuesday to respond to the appeal.
(Reporting by Grant McCool; Editing by Toni Reinhold)