Madoff pleads guilty to Ponzi fraud, jailed

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Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff was jailed after admitting in court on Thursday to masterminding one of the biggest ever corporate frauds.

Madoff, 70, set up a Ponzi scheme in the early 1990s, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has estimated he could face up to 150 years in prison. The scam is reported to have deceived thousands of investors of $50 billion.

The money manager pleaded guilty to 11 criminal counts of fraud, telling the lower Manhattan federal court that he was “deeply sorry and ashamed,” according to CNBC. The judge ordered him sent to jail immediately while he awaits sentencing on June 16. That decision brought applause in the courtroom.

Madoff operated on a classic Ponzi scheme–using the money that new customers invested to pay those who wanted to withdraw funds. To some, he offered returns as high as 46 percent.

The scheme evaporated life fortunes, wiped out charities and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide.

In addition to prison time, Madoff faces mandatory restitution to victims, forfeiture of ill-gotten gains and criminal fines.

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