Bernie Madoff Pleads Guilty to Ponzi Scheme, Goes Straight to Jail, Says He's 'Deeply Sorry'

No more penthouse lifestyle for the financial scammer.

ByABC News
February 19, 2009, 7:29 PM

March 12, 2009— -- Applause broke out in a Manhattan courtroom today when a judge denied admitted Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff's request to return to his luxury penthouse, and instead ordered him handcuffed and taken straight to jail. Madoff pled guilty to 11 felony counts Thursday including securities fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, money laundering, and perjury. He faces a 150 year sentence.

"For many years up until my arrest I operated a Ponzi scheme," Madoff told the court. "When I began I thought it would be over shortly, it became difficult to stop."

Read Bernard Madoff's courtroom statement here.

For the first time, Madoff offered a public apology saying he is "deeply sorry and ashamed."

"I knew what I was doing, it was wrong and I'm deeply sorry," Madoff said.

Madoff remained passive throughout the hearing. He required a sip of water before he began to speak and bowed his head every time he answered "guilty" to all 11 counts. He wore a white shirt and grey suit.

At the close of the hearing, Madoff was handcuffed and led away by marshals.

His attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, had asked the judge to allow Madoff to remain in his apartment until the sentencing saying that Madoff's wife Ruth would pay for security to prevent his flight "at her own expense", at which point the audience broke out in laughter until Judge Denny Chinn quieted them down.

Sorkin said after the hearing that he intends to appeal the decision to remand Madoff to jail.

A handful of his investor victims also spoke in court.