Madoff expected to plead guilty

Swindler could receive 150 years in prison

Bernard L. Madoff’s attorney says the confessed Ponzi schemer is likely to plead guilty this week to defrauding investors of billions.

Prosecutors emphasized that they did not make a deal with Madoff. They released details of their investigation since arresting Madoff Dec. 11, including allegations that he promised some investors returns as high as 46% on their money and began the fraud in the 1980s.

They accused Madoff of 11 fraud counts that could result in a prison sentence of 150 years. Even with a guilty plea this week, sentencing is not expected immediately.

Thousands of clients have lost money with Madoff, and the toll has been considerable among showbiz players, including prominent clients of money managers Gerald Breslauer and Stanley Chais. The list of victims includes Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick, and producer Arnon Milchan.

Madoff worked wealthy circles in Gotham, Hollywood, Florida and Europe, bilking a disproportionate number of Jewish investors, including Elie Wiesel. Last month, Wiesel made his first public comments about the case after his charity lost $15.2 million.

“Psychopath — it’s too nice a word for him,” the author, humanitarian and Holocaust survivor said at a panel hosted by Portfolio magazine. “It means there is a sickness, a pathology. This man knew what he was doing.”

A hot topic in Gotham on Tuesday was whether victims would be able to directly address Madoff in court. The overflow crowd both inside and outside of the Lower Manhattan courtroom suggested plenty of people would want the chance.

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