2 Dozen Victims Seek To Be Heard At Madoff Plea

By: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Email
By: Larry Neumeister, Associated Press Email

NEW YORK (AP) - At least 25 investors in Bernard Madoff's failed
business are asking to speak at a Thursday hearing at which Madoff
is expected to plead guilty.

Federal prosecutors said in a letter to U.S. District Judge
Denny Chin Monday that they had received 78 e-mails in response to
an order from Chin notifying investors of their right to be heard
at any plea or sentencing hearings for the 70-year-old former
Nasdaq chairman.

Chin invited victims to address the court after prosecutors
submitted papers noting that crime victims have the right to be
"reasonably heard at any public proceeding in the district court
involving release, plea, sentencing, or any parole proceeding."

By 4:05 p.m. Monday, prosecutors said investors had sent 11
e-mails about the acceptance of a plea from Madoff, 25 e-mails
asking to speak at Thursday's hearing, one e-mail about Madoff's
bail, 27 e-mails about sentencing and forfeiture and 14 e-mails
about miscellaneous items.

The letter, signed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lisa A. Baroni,
asked that copies of the e-mails be filed under seal to protect the
privacy interests of the victims.

Madoff has been under house arrest since he was charged in early
December with securities fraud. Authorities said Madoff confessed
to family members, including two sons, that he had operated a $50
billion fraud over a long period of time.

Investigators have since said that the scope of the fraud was
likely much smaller because it appeared that Madoff had included
false returns in his calculation of losses.

The U.S. attorney's office first suggested Friday that a plea
was imminent when it filed a brief court document indicating Madoff
was ready to waive an indictment. One of Madoff's lawyers said he
had already done so. A waiver of indictment is a necessary
procedural step before a defendant enters a guilty plea.

A person close to the case has said that Madoff is expected to
plead guilty Thursday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity
because the plea had not yet occurred.

Shortly after his arrest, Madoff offered to relinquish many of
his and his wife's assets, including properties in Palm Beach,
Fla., and France, as well as his boats and cars.

But his lawyers have indicated in court documents that Madoff's
$7 million Manhattan penthouse and an additional $62 million in
assets should not be taken from the family because they are in his
wife's name and did not result from any alleged fraud.

Daniel Horwitz, one of Madoff's lawyers, said Monday that Ruth
Madoff was seeking a lawyer to represent her in civil litigation
that has been brought.

Until now, Horwitz and attorney Ira Sorkin have represented both
of the Madoffs.

Horwitz declined to comment on the latest court filing by

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