By Anthony M. DeStefano, Newsday.com

Bernard Madoff, the accused Wall Street swindler, could learn as early as today if he will have his $10-million bail revoked and spend his days in a federal jail cell.

Government prosecutors filed additional legal papers with federal Magistrate-Judge Ronald Ellis yesterday to show that Madoff, 70, tried to dissipate money and assets - including $173 million in checks he'd signed - that could reimburse victims of his alleged $50-billion Ponzi scheme.

Prosecutors contend that by trying to give jewelry and other items to family and friends Madoff showed a disregard for a court order and a willingness to further hurt victims.

"The harm to the community by the further dissipation of assets is obvious," said assistant U.S. attorney Marc Litt. Aside from the jewelry, Litt said, after Madoff was arrested on Dec. 11, a search of his desk yielded about $173 million in 100 signed checks ready to be sent.

Madoff had intended to give $200 million to $300 million in investor assets that remained to select family, friends and employees, said Litt, something that was disclosed at the time of Madoff's arrest.

Litt told Ellis that under the bail laws possible economic harm is one factor that can be considered by the court in weighing the dangerousness of a defendant in deciding whether bail should be granted.

Defense attorneys Ira Sorkin and Dan Horwitz had no comment yesterday. But in previous court filings they said Madoff, who is under house arrest at his $7-million Manhattan apartment, intended to distribute personal items to family and close friends because he figured he would never use them again. Sorkin has said Madoff had no intention to violate any court order and that the jewelry was mostly recovered before the government even knew the items had been distributed.

If Ellis revokes Madoff's bail, he is likely to spend his days before any trial at the federal Metropolitan Correction Center in lower Manhattan, near the federal courthouse.

Madoff is next scheduled to be in court Jan. 12, but that timetable could change. He was arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging securities fraud and hasn't been indicted.

Litt also has said Madoff is a risk to flee because he faces a very long sentence - effectively life, under some guidelines calculations - if convicted.