Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to charges that he carried out an epic fraud that robbed investors around the world of billions of dollars, turning a revered moneyman into an overnight global disgrace whose name became synonymous with the economic meltdown.
Madoff entered guilty pleas to all 11 counts he was charged with, including fraud, perjury, and theft from an employee benefit plan and two counts of international money laundering. Prosecutors say the disgraced financier, who has spent three months under house arrest in his $7 million in Manhattan penthouse, could face a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison at sentencing.
The plea came three months after the FBI claimed Madoff admitted to his sons that his once-revered investment fund was all a big lie—a Ponzi scheme that was in the billions of dollars. Since his arrest in December, the scandal has turned the 70-year-old former Nasdaq chairman into a pariah who has worn a bulletproof vest to court.
The scheme evaporated life fortunes, wiped out charities and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide. Victims big and small were swindled by Madoff, from elderly Florida retirees to actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.