Madoff Looks for Way Out of Jail

Lawyers for Ponzi thief appeal incarceration set to run through June sentencing.

March 14, 2009 -- After just over two days in jail, Bernie Madoff wants out.

His lawyers filed papers with a federal court Friday appealing his jailing, saying he should be released until sentencing. Madoff was jailed after pleading guilty to 11 counts of fraud, money laundering, perjury and theft in federal court Thursday.

The motion comes as new court documents surfaced showing Madoff and his wife are worth more than $823 million. The assets include real estate worth $22 million, $17 million in cash and a $7 million yacht.

Investigators are now trying to figure out if Madoff's estimated $65 billion Ponzi scheme was a family affair. Madoff insists the businesses run by his brother and two sons were legitimate, but investigators aren't so sure.

Tens of thousands of account statements were fabricated, documenting transactions that never happened. Victims of the scheme say it was far too complex for Madoff to pull off alone.

Lucinda Franks, a Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist has been tracking the Madoff case, calling it "inconceivable" that no one in Madoff's office knew what was going on. She believes investigators will go after Madoff's wife next.

"I think Ruth Madoff is primary," said Franks. "She mailed jewelry off to relatives after the judge said all assets should be seized."

According to court documents, Ruth Madoff also withdrew $15.5 million from a Madoff brokerage firm in the weeks before her husband's arrest, including $10 million the day he was charged.

Ruth Madoff has remained silent on the issue, as have Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew, and brother, Peter. The four have all attained lawyers, but have claimed no wrongdoing.

Bernie Madoff pled guilty to 11 felony charges Thursday in federal court, saying he was "deeply sorry." The plea came after Madoff, whose arrest Dec. 11 set off a wave of financial pain and even ruin for charities, celebrities, hedge funds, trust funds and ordinary investors, spoke out about his criminal scam in detail for the first time.

There was concern from those who were defrauded by Madoff, that a guilty plea would put an end to an investigation into Madoff's family before it even started. Legal experts say that's not the case.

"It's very difficult to see how this went on so long with just Bernie Madoff," said Stephen Leeb, author of the book "Game Over."

Inside the courtroom this week, there were laughter and jeers when it was suggested Ruth Madoff be able to keep $69 million in assets, including the Manhattan penthouse.

"They don't want to see just Bernie go to jail and have the end of it." Franks said. "Ruth is known to have reeled in investors for Bernie. She's the more outgoing one. He was the shy, reserved one. I don't think people want to see her get off."

Bernie Madoff is scheduled to be sentenced June 16. He's facing up to 150 years, plus fines and mandatory restitution. He's currently being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.