After nearly a month of house arrest served in his plush New York City apartment, disgraced financier Bernanrd Madoff appeared in a lower Manhattan court today to answer questions about three potential conflicts of interest involving his attorney, Ira Sorkin. Among these was a potential conflict of interest involving a $900,000 investment by his lawyer's sons.
Today's hearing, while mostly procedural, was considered a prelude to Thursday's hearing when Madooff is expected to plead guilty on eleven criminal counts of money laundering, perjury and securities, mail and wire fraud related to an alleged "Ponzi scheme" where Madoff may have swindled investors out of more than $50 billion. A "Ponzi scheme" is defined by Wikipedia as "a fraudulent investment operation that pays returns to investors from their own money or money paid by subsequent investors rather than from profit."
The 70-year-old Madoff, who's the former chairman of Nasdaq, is expected to plead guilty without a plea agreement to avoid a trial. If found guilty on all charges, he could be convicted of up to 150 years imprisonment.