Five former employees of Bernie Madoff contended that their boss conducted fraud without their knowledge, but on March 24, a jury handed down its verdict that they were complicit in his actions.
The five employees were found guilty of fraud, helping Madoff’s scam that cost investors $17 billion afloat through a web of lies and fake documents. While Madoff had previously claimed that the fraud was a one-man job, this trial has helped expose the extent to which fraud was deeply rooted within his company.
“How could Bernie be the only one that could pull this off?” said juror Sheila Amato, a teacher in Rockland County, N.Y., to The Wall Street Journal. “He’s the mastermind. They were like his soldiers.”
The five employees are portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, ex-operations chief Daniel Bonventre, and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, computer programmers. Bongiorno, Crupi, and Bonventre were accused of concocting fake records, while O’Hara and Perez were accused of creating fake customer accounts.
In total, the employees faced 31 different charges, ranging from securities fraud to conspiring to defraud investors. They are expected to be sentenced in July and could each face decades in prison.
The trial lasted more than six months, one of the longest white-collar trials in recent times. During the course of the trial, one juror even fell sick and was excused from the proceedings. However, following the testimony of star witness Frank DiPascali, jurors took little time to proclaim the defendants guilty.
This trial provided the most complete view of the inner workings of the Madoff scheme, which was revealed to be a team effort. Although company employees had previously been charged with fraud, including Madoff’s brother Peter and a company bookkeeper, these five were the first to claim ignorance and plead not guilty to the charges against them.
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