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Madoff Pleads Guilty to Massive Wall Street Fraud

Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to fraud charges totaling an estimated $65 billion. Analysts discuss the case and the prospects of victims recovering any money.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty today in what may be the largest swindle in the history of Wall Street. Jeffrey Brown has our lead story report.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    Helicopters hovered overhead, crowds gathered on the sidewalk, and all eyes were on Bernard Madoff as he arrived this morning at the Manhattan federal court, the first time the 70-year-old financier would stand face-to-face with some of the victims of his alleged $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

    Madoff pleaded guilty to all 11 counts he was charged with, including fraud, perjury, and theft, which carry maximum sentences of up to 150 years in jail.

    He told the judge, "I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed." He added, "As the years went by, I realized my risk and this day would inevitably come."

  • MADOFF VICTIM:

    I've lost everything, and I want to see justice.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    About 100 of Madoff's victims were inside the courtroom.

  • HELEN CHAITMAN, Madoff Victim:

    It's hard to comprehend what $64 billion is. But when you realize that there are probably 100,000 people who've lost their entire life savings because of that one man, it's stunning to look at him and see him standing there.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    U.S. District Judge Denny Chin denied bail, and there was applause as Madoff was led out in handcuffs. He avoided eye contact with his victims, including Miriam Siegman.

  • MIRIAM SIEGMAN, Madoff Victim:

    As he was led away in handcuffs, I sort of pushed my way up to the front and saw him in silhouette. He's not a man who feels, I don't think, remorse.

  • JEFFREY BROWN:

    After the hearing, federal prosecutors released a statement, saying, "His admission certainly establishes guilt. We are continuing to investigate the fraud and will bring additional charges against anyone, including Mr. Madoff, as warranted."

    Ira Sorkin, Madoff's attorney, had only this to say outside the courthouse.

  • IRA SORKIN, Attorney:

    We intend to appeal the remand.

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