NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – Bernard Madoff could not have pulled off history’s biggest Ponzi scheme without assistance from five greedy employees who helped him lie to thousands of investors and federal regulators, a prosecutor told jurors at the opening of a five-month criminal fraud trial, the first to result from a lengthy probe of the financier’s fallen empire.
“Nobody is going to dispute that Bernard Madoff told a ton of lies – of course, he did,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz told jurors in an opening statement at the Manhattan trial of five ex-Madoff employees. “But the evidence will show that these defendants knew exactly what they were doing. — They did it because Bernard Madoff encouraged it and they were getting rich in the process.”
Annette Bongiorno, Madoff’s longtime secretary; Daniel Bonventre, his director of operations for investments; JoAnn Crupi, an account manager; and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez – all have pleaded not guilty. They have claimed they were led astray by Madoff and kept in the dark about his epic fraud.