Madoff bail appeal set for Wednesday: court

NEW YORK Tue Jan 13, 2009 6:57pm EST

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A court hearing has been scheduled for Wednesday to hear U.S. prosecutors appeal a ruling that kept accused swindler Bernard Madoff out on bail and under house arrest, court officials said on Tuesday.

Monday's ruling gave Madoff, one of the most vilified figures in America, more time in his $7 million Manhattan penthouse apartment before he goes to trial or pleads guilty to a purported $50 billion worldwide investment fraud.

The government wants a judge to revoke his bail and send him to jail.

Judge Lawrence McKenna in U.S. District Court in Manhattan will hear the government's argument at 2:30 p.m. (1930 GMT) on Wednesday, a clerk in his court and a court spokesman said.

Madoff's lawyer Ira Sorkin said Madoff would appear in court for the hearing.

"The government will make its application and we will oppose it," Sorkin said.

The 70-year-old investment adviser is under house arrest and may leave his apartment only for court appointments.

Madoff's lawyers have said their client is cooperating with government investigations following his December 11 arrest for what would be the biggest Ponzi scheme in history. In a Ponzi scheme, early investors are paid with the money of new clients.

The government has until February 11 to convince a grand jury to bring an indictment against Madoff, a former chairman of the Nasdaq stock market and a once-respected figure for more than 40 years in the financial industry.

Monday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis rejected prosecutors' request to jail Madoff. Prosecutors later said they would appeal the ruling.

The government had asked the judge to jail Madoff, arguing that he violated a December 18 court order freezing his assets by mailing more than $1 million of jewelry and valuables to family and friends. They also said he was a flight risk.

Authorities say Madoff has confessed to a $50 billion fraud.

(Editing by John Wallace, Phil Berlowitz)

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