Five ex-Madoff aides face up to 20 years in prison

Sun Dec 7, 2014 1:14am EST
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By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five former employees of Bernard Madoff, convicted in March of helping the fund manager bilk investors of billions of dollars in his massive Ponzi scheme, will be sentenced this week, with prosecutors seeking prison terms of up to 20 years.

Like the six-month trial, one of the longest white-collar trials in recent memory, the sentencings will take time, stretching out over a week in four separate hearings.

The sentencings have been delayed for months, as defense lawyers fought the government's demand that the three men and two women should be ordered to pay billions of dollars in forfeiture they say they don't have.

First up on Monday is former back office director Daniel Bonaventure, followed in the coming days by portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno, computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez and portfolio manager Joann Crupi.

The five aides were convicted on all counts, including conspiracy and fraud charges, by a federal jury in March. Prosecutors said they knowingly propped up Madoff's fraud by creating fake documents and backdating trades.

The government has requested more than 20 years for Bonaventure and Bongiorno, more than 14 for Crupi and more than eight for O’Hara and Perez.

Defense lawyers have asked U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain to show leniency. At trial, they argued that Madoff duped their clients into believing his investment advisory business was legitimate.

Attorneys for Bongiorno are seeking eight to 10 years, while lawyers for Bonaventure, Perez and O’Hara asked for home confinement or brief imprisonment. Cru pi's lawyers have also asked for a shorter sentence than the government requested.   Continued...

Daniel Bonventre, back-office director for Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC, exits the Manhattan Federal Court house in New York, March 24, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid