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Judge rejects bid to jail disgraced Madoff

A JUDGE has allowed Bernard Madoff to remain confined to his Manhattan penthouse, rejecting a bid to jail the disgraced financier but imposing new restrictions to keep him from mailing any more valuables to family and friends.

The financier sent more than US$1 million in jewelry to family and friends over the holidays.

In a ruling that provided limited satisfaction to investors wiped out in what may be the largest Ponzi scheme yet, Judge Ronald Ellis ordered Madoff to take an inventory of the items in his US$7-million apartment and submit his outgoing mail to security checks.

Prosecutors said they would ask another judge to jail Madoff while he awaits trial.

"There is a thirst for blood that transcends just those who have been victimized," said attorney Stephen Weiss. Some of his several dozen Madoff investor clients "just want to have this guy's head."

Sweeping aside the emotions of the case, the judge cited laws requiring that defendants be allowed to stay out on bail before trial unless they were a danger to the community or a flight risk.

Those standards make it difficult for prosecutors to have white-collar defendants jailed before trial. The judge noted that suspects in nearly 75 percent of federal fraud cases were granted bail.

Prosecutors plan to appeal the ruling and ask another judge to revoke Madoff's bail. The judge stayed his ruling for 48 hours, meaning the new restrictions will not take effect right away.

Restrictions in a separate civil case will apply to the criminal case, the judge said - meaning moving money around by computer would violate the bail conditions.

"Aside from the bare assertion that there remains some risk of flight, the government has failed to articulate any flaw in the current conditions of release," the judge said.

Madoff is already required to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet, submit to 24-hour private security guards and post his homes in Manhattan, Long Island and Florida as part of his US$10 million bail package.


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