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Americas Americas

Madoff lawyers to appeal for bail

Latest update : 2009-03-13

A New York court will hear an appeal next week by Bernard Madoff's lawyers against the decision to revoke his bail. Accused of running a hugely fraudulent investment scheme, Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts submitted by US prosecutors.

AFP - Bernard Madoff awoke Friday -- at 6:00 am and in a narrow bunk -- on the first day of his new life as Prisoner 61727-054 after pleading guilty to massive fraud.

Lawyers will ask the US Court of Appeals in New York on March 19 to overturn 70-year-old Madoff's jailing and free him on bail.

But if the appeal fails, Madoff's spartan, eight-by-seven-and-a-half foot (2.43-by-2.28-meters) cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in downtown Manhattan will be home until he is sentenced on June 16.

While the confessed multi-billion-dollar conman settles in, federal investigators are examining who helped him perpetuate the "unprecedented" Ponzi scheme, in which thousands of investors were targeted over decades.

"We are continuing to investigate the fraud and will bring additional charges against anyone ... as warranted," US prosecutor Lev Dassin said.

Victims reveled in Madoff's jailing and US media immediately published pictures of the type of cell that one of the country's most hated men now occupies.

Pictures show there's just enough room to stand, wash and get dressed in the room -- a far cry from the seven-million-dollar Manhattan apartment where he lived with wife Ruth until Thursday.

Space will be even tighter if Madoff has to share his bunk bed with another prisoner at the Correctional Center, which holds the gamut of accused and convicted criminals, whether terrorists, gangsters, killers or rapists.

Lights go on at 6:00 am, with breakfast half an hour later, lunch at 11:00 am and dinner at 5:00 pm, ABC television reported. At 11:00 pm, it's bedtime.

After decades of pretending to be an investor, Madoff will have the chance to do some real work at the center, including janitorial duty.

Alternatively, he could visit the prison library, which has a special section of books on the law. If he does have a cellmate -- not always a good thing in prison -- they could play ping pong or watch television together in the common area.

Should he enjoy the life, Madoff is lucky: he faces being sentenced to as much as 150 years in a federal institution.

And if he isn't happy, there's still an upside, MSNBC television pointed out. "He gets to avoid this less than desirable address: Death Row."

The FBI and prosecutors are looking to see who else might go behind bars.

Many of Madoff's victims are frustrated by the absence of other suspects and lack of progress on recovering the billions of dollars that vanished.

Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 counts, but not conspiracy, something that would have flagged that investigators were closing in on others.

But it's not possible that Madoff acted alone, victims say.

"Just to produce the reams of documents that were received and the elaborate data that went into them must have required an army of people to produce," said George Nierenberg, one of the three victims allowed to address the court during Madoff's plea hearing.

The media spotlight is falling increasingly on Madoff's family and close colleagues -- Ruth, brother Peter, and sons Mark and Andrew.

On Thursday, Madoff sought to build a firewall around them, telling the court they worked for parts of his empire that were separate to his illegal activities and were "legitimate, profitable and successful."

Lawyers said Friday that the authorities who failed to uncover Madoff's scam must now come to the rescue.

"After Madoff pleads guilty at the hearing, it is time to take care of the victims," said a statement from The Global Alliance of Law Firms on the Madoff Case, which is pushing for an international court to deliver justice.

Date created : 2009-03-13