Wall Street pariah Bernard Madoff is set to leave his midtown penthouse twice this week, get into a vehicle accompanied by security guards and be driven downtown to federal court.
Madoff, 70, who has been under house arrest since December, should enjoy those chauffeured tours while he can. For Madoff, time as a free man, relatively speaking, is running out.
During the most important of those appearances Thursday, Madoff, suspected of running a $50-billion Ponzi scheme, is expected to plead guilty to securities fraud and related charges. If a change of heart and legal snafus don’t derail the plea, it will be a pivotal event closely watched for clues to what happens next. A key question will be whether Madoff’s wife, Ruth, or his sons face prosecution.
Some investors are expected to be in court and by law have a right to speak to Judge Denny Chin, who was assigned the case after Madoff said Friday that he was waiving his right to be indicted. Many seem outraged by a plea, fearing prosecutors might give Madoff a break. “He should be given ice in the wintertime and lots of it,” said Burt Ross, the former mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., who said he lost $5 million.