Guilty plea coming for Bernie Madoff?

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It's looking like Bernie Madoff of big Ponzi fame will be pleading guilty this week to one count of securities fraud. People are now questioning whether the $50 billion price tag attached to Madoff's scheme is really accurate, or if it just sounds sexy and makes great headlines. But no one's disputing that the guy ripped off investors for billions.

Madoff is allegedly going to be waiving his right to a grand jury indictment, which is one hint that there is likely going to be a guilty plea. Of course, no one is confirming this is what's going to happen, but all the talking heads seem to agree that a guilty plea is all but assured.

Is this good for the public? I don't know. It seems like too easy a resolution to such an egregious act of fraud. However, a quick resolution saves money, hopefully preserving assets for eventual distribution to Madoff's victims. The victims will probably only get pennies on the dollar returned to them, but the absence of a drawn-out investigation and legal proceedings may make more money available to them.

Let's just hope Madoff doesn't get away with just a slap on the wrist. Just like Enron investors, the people who put money with Madoff have, in some cases, lost their entire savings. This is a bad, bad man who has harmed a lot of individuals and organizations, and the financial effects are wide-reaching. Here's to hoping that the punishment he receives is as severe as the crime he's pleading guilty to.

Forensic accountant Tracy Coenen investigates corporate fraud and consumer scams, and is the author of Expert Fraud Investigation and Essentials of Corporate Fraud.
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