Bernard Madoff Pleads Guilty


In court today, Bernard Madoff admitted, "As the years went by, I realized this day, and my arrest, would inevitably come."

The New York Times reports that during a 75-minute hearing, Madoff apologized and confessed how "sorry and ashamed" he is for swindling billions out of his investors over the course of 20 years. Some of Madoff's victims appeared in court; it's still undetermined whether they'll get any of their investments back. Judge Denny Chin even had to ask the guilty-pleading Madoff to speak louder. Madoff even had to sip water to steady himself.

And it's no wonder why he was having trouble holding it together. It seems Madoff thought he could make a pretty penny and then bow out of the Ponzi scheme. "I believed it would end shortly," he said.

Interesting choice of words. It's almost like he doesn't believe he was in control of it. Like the great clockmaker, he set the world in order, lined up the components, sat back, and watched everyone else decide their own fates.

But that's not true. He took the scheme to a colossal, global level -- renting a posh office space to conduct "business" in, drafting fallacious financial statements and (according to The New York Times) even hiring inexperienced employees who'd take orders without having the sense to question them. So after pleading guilty to 11 charges, the question is: Did he act alone? And if not, who acted with him -- and will they be brought to justice as well?

Read more in these HowStuffWorks.com articles:

How Ponzi Schemes Work How Investment Scams Work How Lying Works