Prosecutors will bring additional charges as warranted against Bernard Madoff or anyone else involved in the fraud that bilked investors of billions, the Acting U.S. Attorney for Manhattan said on Thursday.
"Today is one step in an ongoing investigation," Lev Dassin said in a statement after Madoff pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court in the biggest Ponzi scheme in Wall Street history.
"While we do not agree with all the assertions made by Mr. Madoff today, his admissions certainly establish his guilt. We are continuing to investigate the fraud and will bring additional charges against anyone, including Mr. Madoff, as warranted," Dassin said.
Prosecutors have estimated that the scheme drew in as much as $65 billion over at least 20 years. Madoff is the only person who has been charged in the case.
Madoff pleaded guilty Thursday to 11 counts in an epic fraud that robbed investors worldwide of billions of dollars, avoiding eye contact with swindled investors before he was led out of court with his hands cuffed behind his back.
Madoff was taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center, near the Federal courthouse. It is run by the Federal Bureau of Prisons. He is scheduled to be formally sentenced on June 16.
U.S. District Judge Denny Chin denied bail for Madoff, 70, and ordered him to jail, noting that he had the means to flee and an incentive to do so because of his age.
Applause broke out in the courtroom after the judge's announcement. Madoff's lawyer says he plans to appeal the decision by the judge to revoke the bail.
Madoff spoke steadily in court as he addressed the judge before his guilty plea was accepted.
"I am actually grateful for this opportunity to publicly comment about my crimes, for which I am deeply sorry and ashamed," he said.
"As the years went by, I realized my risk, and this day would inevitably come.
I cannot adequately express how sorry I am for my crimes." Madoff did not look at any of the three investors who spoke at the hearing, even when one of them turned in his direction and tried to address him.
After arguments began as to whether Madoff should remain free on bail, his lawyer Ira Sorkin described the bail conditions and how Madoff had, "at his wife's own expense," paid for private security at his $7 million penthouse.
Loud laughter erupted among some of the more than 100 spectators crammed into the large courtroom on the 24th floor of the federal courthouse in lower Manhattan.
The judge warned the spectators to remain silent.
The fraud turned a revered money man into an overnight global disgrace whose name became synonymous with the current economic meltdown.
Madoff described his crimes after he entered a guilty plea to all 11 counts he was charged with, including fraud, perjury, theft from an employee benefit plan, and two counts of international money laundering.
Prosecutors say the disgraced financier, who has spent three months under house arrest in his $7 million in Manhattan penthouse, could face a maximum sentence of 150 years in prison at sentencing.
Madoff explained his scheme by telling the judge that he believed the fraud would be short-term and that he could extricate himself.
The plea came three months after the FBI claimed Madoff admitted to his sons that his once-revered investment fund was all a big lie -- a Ponzi scheme that was in the billions of dollars.
Since his arrest in December, the scandal has turned the 70-year-old former Nasdaq chairman into a pariah who has worn a bulletproof vest to court.
>>CNBC.com will have live coverage of the hearing throughout the day.
The scheme evaporated life fortunes, wiped out charities and apparently pushed at least two investors to commit suicide.
Victims big and small were swindled by Madoff, from elderly Florida retirees to actors Kevin Bacon and Kyra Sedgwick and Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel.
The size of the scandal has made him an international symbol of greed and deception in difficult economic times. But it remains in dispute.
Prosecutors filed papers Tuesday saying Madoff's investment company reported a total balance of $64.8 billion in November even though it actually had only a small fraction of that amount Bernard Madoff has been ordered to jail after pleading guilty to an epic financial fraud scheme.
-CNBC.com staff, Reuters and AP contributed to this story.