A top trader at the fraud-ridden firm run by disgraced investment broker Bernie Madoff pleaded guilty to charges linked to his role in bilking clients for nearly four decades, US justice officials said.
David Kugel, a former senior trader at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC (BLMIS), pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to several criminal counts from his time at the company.
US officials said he created decades' worth of fake, back-dated trades for the purpose of defrauding the firm's investors.
Kugel pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy, as well as securities fraud, falsifying books and records of a broker-dealer, falsifying books and records of an investment adviser, and bank fraud, US Justice Department officials said.
Officials said Kugel has agreed to cooperate with the government in its continuing investigation of the fraud that occurred at the company.
The 66-year old senior manager faces a statutory maximum sentence of 85 years in prison and is also subject to mandatory restitution and forfeiture of proceeds from his crimes.
A judge on Monday set his sentencing for May 4, 2012.
Kugel was employed at BLMIS from 1970 through December 11, 2008, when the massive Ponzi scheme perpetrated by his boss finally unraveled.
The false, backdated trades Kugel fabricated were used to defraud clients by giving "the appearance of profitable trading when none, in fact, had occurred," a Justice Department statement said.
The DOJ said Kugel has agreed to forfeit his assets, including interests in homes, a luxury car, various accounts at financial institutions and other assets.
Federal officials said his liquid assets, and revenue from the sale of Kugel's property, will go to a fund to reimburse his victims.
For decades, Bernie Madoff ran a trading firm where he stole from fresh deposits to create fake profits for existing clients. Seemingly high and steady returns garnered him a reputation as one of the industry's top performers.
He once claimed to have grown investors' money to around $60 billion, but the Ponzi scheme collapsed in December 2008 and after pleading guilty the following year, he was given a prison sentence of 150 years.
The charismatic mogul, once chairman of the Nasdaq stock exchange, fooled charities, major banks, Hollywood moguls and savvy financial players, who ultimately lost tens of millions of dollars.