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Madoff plea may be in play

The accused fraudster waives right to grand jury indictment hinting at possible plea deal.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- Accused swindler Bernard Madoff has waived his right to a grand jury indictment, his attorney said Friday, a move that may signal a plea deal is in the works.

Madoff attorney Ira Sorkin said his client had waived the right, but offered no further explanation. Prosecutors entered a court filing last month indicating Madoff was considering the move, a common first step when a deal is being discussed.

The Order of Continuance filed by the U.S. Attorney's office on January 12 said that Madoff's attorney, Ira Lee Sorkin, and prosecutors "have been engaging in discussions concerning a possible disposition of this case."

A spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney's Office had no further comment.

Madoff is accused of defrauding thousands of investors in a massive Ponzi scheme, estimated by Madoff himself to have lost about $50 billion. He was arrested in December and charged with one count of securities fraud. If convicted on that one count, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine.

-- CNN's Allan Chernoff contributed to this report. To top of page

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