NEW YORK (WCBS 880/AP) — Bernard Madoff’s former secretary made bail Friday and will await her New York trial while on house arrest.
Annette Bongiorno, of Boca Raton, Fla., is facing trial in Manhattan on charges of conspiracy and securities fraud.
A federal judge agreed Friday to reduce her bail from $5 million to $3 million. She was released in the afternoon so she could be taken to her second home in Manhasset, Long Island.
As she left the courthouse, she said she was grateful to be freed.
“I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to get home,” she said.
Her lawyers had sought the bail reduction. They said electronic monitoring and frozen finances, which include $7.6 million in her bank account and property, would eliminate any flight risk.
Authorities accused the 62-year-old secretary of helping Madoff cover up a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that made her wealthy as it wiped out the life savings of thousands of clients.
Bongiorno was recently named in a new indictment along with another back office worker, Joann Crupi, former operations chief Daniel Bonventre and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez. The four have remained free on bail.
The indictment alleges that Bongiorno and Crupi, 49, “‘executed’ trades in the accounts of (wealthy clients) only on paper … and that achieved annual rates of return that had been predetermined by Madoff.”
Prosecutors say Bongiorno deposited about $920,000 in her own Madoff account from 1975 to 2008 and withdrew more than $14 million in investor funds over the same period to buy expensive homes and pay for other luxuries.
Madoff, 72, pleaded guilty to fraud charges last year and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.
An investigation continues to determine who knew about Madoff’s fraud or assisted it during its more than two-decade existence. Authorities have said they continue to investigate Madoff’s brother Peter and son Andrew, who were executive in the Madoff firm’s market-making and proprietary-trading business. Neither has been charged.
Madoff’s eldest son, Mark, who had also worked at Madoff’s firm and had been a subject for investigators, committed suicide on the two-year anniversary of his father’s arrest.
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