Madoff to Plead Guilty Thursday

Friday it was reported that Bernard Madoff had reached a plea deal with Government. He is expected to enter a guilty plea Thursday to whatever charges were agreed upon on.

Today, the Government asked the Court to notify potential victims of their right to seek to be heard at the plea hearing. So far, 78 e-mail responses were received, 25 indicating a wish to be heard.

Will they be heard? The relatively recent victims rights law allowing victims to be heard at hearings involving release on bail, plea, sentencing and parole (which, on Nov. 1, 1987, was abolished for offenses committed after that date) is 18 U.S.C. 3771. [More...]

The Court granted the Government's request for notice today, but in its order, it didn't say the victims would be heard. It only said they must notify the court if they want to be heard and then the court will decide if and how to allow it.

According to the court's docket, a sealed document was placed in the court's vault on Friday. I assume that's the plea agreement. [Update 3/10: There is no plea agreement, Madoff will plead straight-up to the charges with no sentence concessions.]

There's also news today that Ruth Madoff, Bernard's wife, is retaining separate counsel. I suspect that's for the separate civil cases. I'd be very surprised if Bernard didn't insist on a promise that she wouldn't be criminally charged as a condition of his agreeing to plead guilty. [Update 3/10: There are no promises regarding his wife since there is no plea agreement.)

Madoff also has a court appearance tomorrow afternoon, to confirm to the court that he waives his right to conflict-free counsel. Years ago, his lawyer had represented two accountants who had invested with Madoff. The hearing is unlikely to be of any interest, but the media will be camped out en masse anyway.

More and updated details here.

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    The judge is not required to accept any deals. (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Mitch Guthman on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 10:25:08 PM EST

    As I understand it, and based on memory and not current research, the judge must accept the guilty plea but the agreement between the government and the defendant is not binding on him.  There is nothing that would prevent him telling the defendant to either plead straight up and take his chances on the sentence or go to trial.  If convicted after trial, no agreement between the government and the defendants would stop the judge from imposing any legally permissible sentence that he believes is just.

    It is customary, however, for federal judges to indicate whether they will impose something like the sentence agreed to by the parties before receiving the guilty plea. It is also a very strong custom in the criminal justice system for judges to accept these kinds of deals.   My assumption is that the deal has been presented to the sentencing judge and he's agreed to go along with it, in which case the victim statements are just play acting. Otherwise, there would be no point in scheduling the hearing.

    My other assumption, for what it's worth, is that the government has decided that the case isn't worth really pursuing and a trial would be too difficult and risky.  I believe that they've decided to throw the victims under the bus and accept a deal which will leave the Madoff family with no fear of further (federal and probably state) criminal prosecution and in possession of substantially all of the millions which they were able to skim off and place in their names during the fraud.   The wife apparently has about $70 million and the condo in her name.  Nobody knows about the kids but presumably Madoff took good care of them, too. The family may have to chip in a few millions to make it look good, but basically my sense of the thing is that they're going to be able to keep most of the stolen money.  

    I hope I'm wrong but I don't think so. Basically, he's going to go to jail for the balance of his life but he will be able to leave his family with a legacy of many, many millions of stolen dollars.  And he will be able to do it with the federal government's blessings.  

    Remember this and you won't go wrong: Never steal anything small.

    I'm really curious (none / 0) (#1)
    by Lil on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 08:20:28 PM EST
    about his "punishment". Jail? compensation? Does he get to keep his houses and other assets? Assuming all this will be answered at the hearing?

    Jeralyn, will the judge be bound to accept (none / 0) (#2)
    by easilydistracted on Mon Mar 09, 2009 at 08:26:23 PM EST
    whatever plea arrangement the prosecutor has worked out with Madoff? I assume not. Could the judge, after hearing from those whose lives were screwed around by this demon, depart from the agreed-to terms and invoke something even more severe?