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Friday, February 23, 2024 | Back issues
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NY Judge Says Madoff Can Remain Free on Bail

MANHATTAN (CN) - Federal District Judge Lawrence McKenna ruled Wednesday that Bernard Madoff can remain free, rejecting the government's request for de novo review of the money manager's bail conditions. Prosecutors had argued that Madoff's actions showed "that he would not be deterred in his efforts to pick the winners and losers of his fraudulent scheme," statements the defense called "inflammatory rhetoric and hyperbole."

U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis on Monday denied the government's request to revoke Madoff's bond, despite evidence that Madoff had hidden and dissipated assets by sending more than $1 million in jewels to friends and family while under house arrest, in violation of terms of his bond.

U.S. Attorney Lev Dassin's eight-page letter to Judge McKenna essentially repeated the arguments he made Monday, but buttressed them with legal arguments and citations.

Dassin said Madoff violated terms of his bond order by sneaking the jewels out to his friends - though the government intercepted them. Dassin wrote: "When the various bail terms were proposed and ordered, the Government did not expect that the defendant, with the eyes of prosecutors, regulators and world upon him, would have the audacity blatantly to violate Judge Stanton's order. By doing so, the defendant showed that he would not be deterred in his efforts to pick the winners and losers of his fraudulent scheme. And, by his act, the defendant showed that he could not be trusted to obey the Court's orders, and that no set of conditions could constrain his ability to harm the community. Accordingly, the Government promptly sought detention, and now seeks detention here."

The 49-page filing includes a 34-page transcript of the Jan. 5 hearing before Magistrate Ellis at which Madoff's bail terms were modified, and a five-page statement from an FBI agent, dated Dec. 11, in which the agent describes the meeting at which Madoff allegedly confessed to his sons that his entire operation was "just one big lie ... a giant Ponzi scheme."

Defense attorneys Ira Lee Sorkin and Daniel J. Horwitz of Dickstein Shapiro LLP countered with a 13-page letter, asserting that "Mr. Madoff's current, highly restrictive bail conditions fully assure his appearance in court and the safety of the community."

"Moreover, the additional conditions ordered by Magistrate Judge Ellis address any and all remaining concerns regarding Mr. Madoff's pretrial release," the defense added. "Because the Government fails to overcome the Bail Reform Act's presumption in favor of pretrial release, the Government's motion should be denied."

McKenna's ruling means Madoff will remain free on bail, under house arrest at his posh Manhattan apartment.

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