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New restrictions on Madoff, but no jail for now

  Securities  -   POSTED: 2009/01/13 16:54

A judge on Monday allowed Bernard Madoff to remain confined to his Manhattan penthouse, rejecting a bid to jail the disgraced financier but imposing new restrictions to keep him from mailing any more valuables to family and friends.


In a ruling that provided limited satisfaction to investors wiped out in what may be the largest Ponzi scheme ever, Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis ordered Madoff to take an inventory of the items in his $7 million apartment and submit his outgoing mail to security checks.

Prosecutors said they would ask another judge to jail Madoff while he awaits trial.

"There is a thirst for blood that transcends just those who have been victimized," said attorney Stephen A. Weiss, who added that some of his several dozen Madoff investors "just want to have this guy's head."

Sweeping aside the emotions of the case, the judge cited laws requiring that defendants be allowed to stay out on bail before trial unless they are a danger to the community or a threat to flee.

Those standards make it difficult for prosecutors to have white-collar defendants jailed before trial. The judge noted suspects in nearly 75 percent of federal fraud cases are granted bail.

Prosecutors said they planned to appeal the ruling and ask another judge to revoke Madoff's bail. The judge stayed his ruling for 48 hours, meaning the new restrictions will not take effect right away.

The judge also said restrictions in a separate civil case that apply to property under Madoff's control would apply to the criminal case — meaning moving money around by computer would violate his bail conditions.

But in keeping Madoff out of jail for now, Ellis said it did not matter that Madoff was charged in what appears to be the largest Ponzi scheme in history, that Madoff is publicly vilified or that a conviction might bring a long prison term.


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