A federal appeals court ruled Friday that disgraced financier Bernard Madoff will remain in prison until he is sentenced in one of the largest financial frauds in history.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued its written ruling a day after hearing arguments from the government and a lawyer for the 70-year-old former Nasdaq chairman.
The appeals court said U.S. District Judge Denny Chin was correct when he sent Madoff to prison last week immediately after Madoff confessed that he had defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars for at least two decades.
Chin had cited Madoff's age and said the possibility of life in prison heightened his incentive to flee. Madoff faces up to 150 years in prison at sentencing, scheduled for June 16.
"The defendant's age and his exposure to imprisonment are undisputed, and the court did not err in inferring an incentive to flee from these facts," the three-judge panel wrote.
"Moreover, the district court's finding that the defendant has the means — and therefore the ability — to flee are not clear error. The defendant has argued that all of his assets are accounted for and are inaccessible to him; however, the district court was not required to treat this defendant's financial representations as reliable," the judges said in the four-page ruling.
The court also noted that Madoff has a residence abroad and "had had ample opportunity over a long period of time to secret substantial resources outside the country."
Ira Sorkin, Madoff's lawyer, declined to discuss whether he might appeal the issue further.
"We are disappointed," Sorkin said. "We respectfully disagree with the court but the court has ruled."
Janice Oh, a spokeswoman for prosecutors, said the office had no comment.
Madoff pleaded guilty last week to securities fraud, perjury and other charges. Until his plea, Madoff had been under house arrest on $10 million bail, confined to his $7 million penthouse apartment in midtown Manhattan.
The appeals court noted in its decision that a defendant who has been convicted no longer has the same constitutional right to bail that exists when there is a presumption of innocence.
A conviction puts the burden on a defendant to show by clear and convincing evidence that he will not flee or pose a danger to the safety of others or the community.