(March 25, 2014) — Five former employees of Bernard Madoff were found guilty on numerous charges including conspiracy, securities fraud, and falsifying records for Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.
Portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and JoAnn Crupi, Computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, and Madoff’s former operations director Daniel Bonventre were all convicted on March 24.
“As the jury unanimously found, these five defendants played crucial roles in constructing and maintaining the house of cards that was the Madoff investment fraud,” said US Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement. “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.
The five defendants were first indicted by the grand jury in October 2012 for crimes dating back four decades.
“The trial established that the Madoff fraud began at least as far back as the early 1970s, decades before it came to light,” 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. The scheme these defendants helped perpetrate cost innumerable investors their life savings. Now it likely will cost the defendants their freedom.”
Madoff, 75, is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence in North Carolina after pleading guilty in 2009 to running the largest Ponzi scheme ever uncovered. His scam had cost investors a total of $17 billion.
During the five months of trial, the defendants had claimed that Madoff had deceived them into becoming accomplices of the Ponzi scheme.
“Why wouldn’t she believe [Madoff]?” said Rolad Riopelle, the lawyer for Bongiorno, in his closing statement, according to Reuters. “He was the head of the firm and the chairman of NASDAQ. She was by design, by Mr. Madoff’s design, living in her own little bubble.”
However, the prosecutors argued that it was impossible that the five former employees were unaware of the scam.
“The notion that these defendants didn’t know the trading was fake is an absurdity,” said Assistant US Attorney Randall Jackson at the end of the trial.
Madoff’s former employees were convicted of a total of 31 counts and will be sentenced independently in late July.