5 Madoff Employees Knowingly Aided to Swindle the Clients’ Billions Jury Says
With that verdict, the jurors rejected the former employees’ central defense: that only Mr. Madoff had known the evil purpose behind the chores he told them to carry out, while they had simply trusted for decades in the honesty of a man widely known and respected on Wall Street.
“There’s really no dispute here that there was a massive criminal conspiracy,” John T. Zach, an assistant United States attorney, told the jury early this month, in the closing weeks of a trial that had lasted more than five months.
The only question, he said, was whether the defendants knowingly committed fraud to help Mr. Madoff sustain that criminal enterprise. “So let me state it to you as clearly as I can,” he said: “The defendants knew that fraud was going on at Madoff Securities.”
Prosecutors said that the two portfolio managers on trial, JoAnn Crupi and Annette Bongiorno, as well as the firm’s operations director, Daniel Bonventre, conspired in various ways to lie to customers, cheat on taxes and falsify records at Bernard Madoff Investment Securities, the firm Mr. Madoff founded in the early 1960s.
The government also accused two computer programmers, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, of helping sustain the $17 billion Ponzi scheme by knowingly creating computer programs that could create fake trades and records
Each of the five defendants faces decades in prison, although the ultimate sentences will be the decision of Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Federal District Court in Lower Manhattan, who presided over the complex trial.
Annette Bongiorno, a former aide to Bernard Madoff.
Daniel Bonventre, a former operations manager for Bernard Madoff.
Jerome O’Hara, a former employee of Bernard Madoff.
George Perez, a former computer programmer for Bernie Madoff.
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“These convictions, along with the prior guilty pleas of nine other defendants, demonstrate what we have believed from the earliest stages of the investigation: This largest-ever Ponzi scheme could not have been the work of one person,” said Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, whose office brought the case.
“The trial established that the Madoff fraud began at least as far back as the early 1970s, decades before it came to light,” Mr. Bharara said. “These defendants each played an important role in carrying out the charade, propping it up and concealing it from regulators, auditors, taxing authorities, lenders and investors.”
While lawyers for the defense claimed that their clients did not knowingly participate in any of the deception, their arguments were challenged