Madoff expected to plead guilty to fraud next week

NEW YORK, (Reuters) – Bernard Madoff, accused  mastermind of a $50 billion investment fraud, is expected to  plead guilty to criminal charges next week, three months after  his arrest shocked his customers worldwide.

A court document signed yesterday by prosecutors and  Madoff’s lead attorney indicated the once-respected Wall Street  trader and investment manager would waive an indictment and  plead guilty to criminal charges.

A March 12 hearing was scheduled for Madoff to appear in  court on the charges, said a clerk for Judge Denny Chin in U.S.  District Court in Manhattan, who was assigned to oversee the  case.

Madoff, who is under house arrest, also is set to appear at  a March 10 hearing on a potential conflict of interest  involving his main lawyer, Ira Sorkin.

Legal experts said all signs indicate that a guilty plea  has been negotiated in what authorities have called the biggest  Ponzi scheme in Wall Street history. The purported swindle ran  for decades but collapsed in last year’s market meltdown.

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