Page last updated at 07:34 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Madoff sends valuables to family

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Madoff is confronted by reporters as he leaves court in New York

US prosecutors have called for Bernard Madoff to be locked up until his trial after it emerged he had been sending valuables to family and friends.

The prosecutor said that a single one of the packages sent in the post was worth more than $1m (685,000).

They included jewellery, watches, pens, cufflinks and a $200 pair of mittens.

Mr Madoff's lawyer, Ira Sorkin, said that his client had not realised that the mailings violated the freezing of his assets.

He also said that some of the items sent belonged to Mrs Madoff and so were not covered by the freeze.

The parcels were sent to Mr Madoff's brother, his son and daughter-in-law and another New York couple.

'Not a threat'

Mr Sorkin said that it had been members of Mr Madoff's family who had brought the mailings to the attention of the authorities.

Mr Madoff was accused last month of running a fraudulent $50bn scheme, which involved existing investors' returns being funded by cash from new investors.

At a bail hearing, Judge Ronald Ellis told both sides to submit written arguments and said he would rule later on whether Mr Madoff would have to go to prison until his trial.

"He's not a threat to the community and there's no danger he's going to flee," Mr Sorkin said.

Mr Madoff is currently under house arrest in his New York penthouse.

His $10m bail is covered by that home as well as his houses in Long Island and Florida.

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