Defendant's Lawyer Claims Client Didn't Understanding Securities

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP)Bernard Madoff placed no premium on further educating the employees he hired right out of high school — the less they knew, the better — the Ponzi schemer’s longtime lieutenant testified Monday.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, Frank DiPascali, the government’s star witness in the trial of five former Madoff employees, conceded to the attorney for defendant Annette Bongiorno, who handled the customer side of the fake investment business, that she told him she never really understood securities trading and she was not the one who chose investment strategies for clients.

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DiPascali had earlier said it was virtually impossible not to recognize the fake trading that was gonig on in the Madoff investment business.

Bongiorno’s lawyer painted the picture that his client was a loyal Madoff employee who knew nothing about trading and the massive long-running fraud at the company.

DiPascali, 57, pleaded guilty in 2009 to 10 counts, including conspiracy, fraud and money laundering, and is also expected to testify at the trial.

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Prosecutors have described the defendants as “necessary players” in Madoff’s $17 billion scheme.

They allege that Bongiorno and account manager JoAnn Crupi used old stock tables to fabricate account statements and other fake records intended to dupe clients by showing steady returns even during economic downturns; that computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez developed a software program that automated the scheme; and that Daniel Bonventre, director of operations for investments, kept three separate books on the business designed to fool the Securities and Exchange Commission, banks or anyone else who examined them.

The defendants also rewarded themselves with tens of millions of dollars in salary and bonuses from a “slush fund” of stolen money, prosecutors say.

They have denied the charges.

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