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Madoff Co-Conspirator Changes Plea to Guilty

MANHATTAN (CN) - A co-conspirator in Bernie Madoff's epic Ponzi scheme changed his plea to guilty in a Monday hearing announcing his cooperation with the government.

David Kugel, 66, faces up to 85 years in prison and $170 billion in forfeiture, but he will remain free on a $3 million bail for at least six months as he helps the federal government build a case against his alleged co-conspirators.

Kugel worked for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS) from 1970 through Dec. 11, 2008. He started as a trader in BLMIS' Proprietary Trading and Market Making operations, assumed a managerial position on the trading floor in the late 1990s, and later took on the role of trading floor compliance analyst.

Echoing the charges of the indictment, Kugel admitted at the early afternoon hearing to providing historical trade information to other BLMIS employees, including Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, to create fake trades.

He added that Crupi and others helped feed him fraudulent information to gain several multiple million-dollar loans.

"I stand before you ready to plead guilty," Kugel told U.S. District Judge Linda Swain. "I am deeply sorry for my actions and am ready to do everything I can to cooperate with the government."

After his plea was accepted, Judge Swain released Kugel on a $3 million bond, restricting his travel to the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York and the District of New Jersey. He will be subject to strict pretrial supervision.

Defense attorneys have held Kugel and his wife's passports to surrender to the court.

Judge Swain set a sentencing control date for May 4, 2012.

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