Second Madoff aide testifies at trial, denies knowledge of fraud

Mon Feb 24, 2014 5:58pm EST
 
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Longtime Bernard Madoff assistant Annette Bongiorno on Monday testified that she had no idea her boss was operating a vast Ponzi scheme, despite the decades she spent helping run the trading business where it originated.

Bongiorno said she recorded backdated trades, sometimes months after the fact, but never suspected there was anything illegal about it.

"Did anyone ever suggest to you that there was something wrong with that practice?" her lawyer, Roland Riopelle, asked her.

"The only person who ever suggested that to me was you," she replied.

Bongiorno is on trial in Manhattan federal court along with four other Madoff employees, all accused of aiding the fraud.

She became the second defendant to testify in her own defense, after Madoff's director of operations, Daniel Bonventre, chose to do the same last week. His testimony concluded on Monday morning.

The other defendants - portfolio manager Joann Crupi and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez - have indicated they will not testify. All five have denied knowing about the scheme, saying they were fooled by the charismatic Madoff into believing the trading business was legitimate.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty. The criminal case is the first to reach trial since the firm collapsed in 2008, revealing a fraud that cost investors an estimated $17 billion in principal losses.   Continued...

 
Bernie Madoff's former secretary, Annette Bongiorno departs Manhattan Federal Court in the Manhattan Borough of New York February 24, 2014. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri