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Trial of former Bernard Madoff employees winding down

March 5, 2014 at 8:16 PM   |   Comments

NEW YORK, March 5 (UPI) -- A federal prosecutor said in closing arguments five former employees of Bernard Madoff's New York investment firm played critical roles in the deception.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Zach began his final arguments Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal reported. He told jurors the five defendants played critical roles in Madoff's massive deception of investors.

The defendants say they were deceived by Madoff, 75, who is currently serving a 150-year prison sentence. Madoff acknowledged his business was basically a Ponzi scheme that used new investors to pay dividends to old ones, a fraud he kept going for years.

Zach said the defendants helped Madoff by faking records "out of thin air" and deceiving regulators.

Because Madoff and a number of other people pleaded guilty after the fraud was uncovered in 2008, the trial is the first where prosecutors have aired their evidence in court. Former employees Jerome O'Hara and George Perez allegedly faked customer accounts while managers Annette Bongiorno and JoAnn Crupi allegedly created fraudulent trading records. Daniel Bonventre, who began working for Madoff in 1968 and headed back office operations at the firm, "cooked the books," prosecutors said.

Closing arguments are expected to continue into next week.

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