Five former employees of Bernie Madoff were found guilty on Monday of conspiracy charges, for their roles in the criminal financial enterprise he kept secret for decades. The ponzi schemer's former aides were convicted on all counts in the nearly $20 billion fraud. Those convicted were Madoff's longtime secretary, his account manager, two programmers, and his director of operations. The five were accused of financially benefitting from the fraud, while helping their boss to cover his tracks. The verdicts, guilty on 31 counts related to the fraud, end a lengthy, nearly 6-month trial.
The defense teams for Annette Bongiorno, Daniel Bonventre, JoAnn Crupi, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez argued that the quintet were also victims of the scheme, as they collectively lost tens of millions of their own money when Madoff's plan collapsed. But they faced testimony from six other associates of Madoff, who agreed to cooperate with the case in a plea deal. That testimony painted a different picture, of employees knowingly assisting their boss to keep the fraud alive.
For instance, prosecutors said that O'Hara and Perez intentionally built a software program that faked records for the firm. Others lied for their boss to his clients and falsified records. Madoff is serving 150 years in prison for the scheme, which he has claimed that he ran by himself. In a statement, U.S. attorney in Manhattan Preet Bharara said (via the New York Times):
“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 trial established that the Madoff fraud began at least as far back as the early 1970s, decades before it came to light...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.”
Last week, Madoff gave an interview to Politico, where he revealed that he's kind of "eh" on New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and also on wealth redistribution. He pleaded guilty in 2009 to investment and securities fraud, after he ran out of the money needed to maintain his enormous Ponzi scheme. The collapse of his firm resulted in tens of billions of dollars in losses for his clients and former friends.