NYC judge allows Madoff to remain free

January 12, 2009 9:44:20 AM PST
A judge has allowed Bernard Madoff to remain free on bail, rejecting a bid by prosecutors to send the disgraced investor to jail.

The anxiously awaited decision Monday puts further restrictions on Madoff, including forcing him to come up with a list of items at his apartment and allowing a security firm to check on it.

Madoff mailed more than $1 million in jewelry and heirlooms to family and friends over the holidays. Prosecutors said the gifts were grounds to have his bail revoked because what's left of Madoff's assets will have to be returned to burned investors.

Madoff's lawyers said the gifts were an innocent mistake and said he is neither a danger to the community nor a threat to flee.

The fact that Madoff (MAY'-dawf) has been able to spend his days in his luxury apartment - and not jail - has stirred up outrage among investors who lost billions in his alleged fraud that prosecutors say Madoff described as a $50 billion Ponzi scheme.

Defense lawyer Ira Sorkin says the "the opinion speaks for itself and we intend to comply with the judge's order."