A federal judge has delayed sentencing Michael Milken until she holds an extraordinary inquiry based on an array of unproven charges against the fallen junk-bond financier.

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood said in her surprise ruling Thursday that she wanted to gain a greater understanding of Milken, described by prosecutors as a conniving crook and by his defenders as a contrite philanthropist.The judge had been scheduled to sentence Milken on Monday, closing a major chapter in Wall Street's worst scandal. He faces up to 28 years in prison after pleading guilty to six felonies in April.

Federal prosecutors have tried to persuade Wood that Milken's crimes are extensive and should be considered as she deliberates his punishment. Defense attorneys argued she should sentence Milken only on the charges he's admitted.

Wood said each side could present testimony and evidence during the hearing next month.

Federal law allows her to consider any information in determining sentence for Milken, the pioneer of high-risk, high-yield bond trading at Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc.