NEW YORK, Dec. 8 (UPI) -- Daniel Bonventre, who helped Bernard Madoff maintain fraudulent records, told the judge who gave him 10 years Monday he was "used by the ultimate con man."
Bonventre, 67, was also ordered to forfeit $155 billion jointly with the four other Madoff staffers convicted with him.
U.S. District Judge Laura Swain conceded Bonventre did not know the extent of Madoff's Ponzi scheme, which prosecutors said may have begun in the 1970s and continued until late 2008. But she said Bonventre, who worked for Madoff for 40 years, realized as early as 1992 that his boss was perpetrating a fraud.
"He was a pampered, compliant and overcompensated worker who willfully blinded himself to inconvenient truths," Swain said.
Prosecutors said that Bonventre kept the records that allowed Madoff to keep his scheme going. That included shaving millions of dollars from his liabilities.
Bonventre was the first of five former Madoff employees scheduled for sentencing this week. The judge said Bonventre, former portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez will share in the forfeiture order of $155 billion.
All five were found guilty in March.
Madoff, who pleaded guilty, is serving a 150-year sentence. For decades, he claimed to have a secret system that allowed him to provide steady returns to his investors, while actually using invested funds to pay them, which worked until the supply of new money dried up during the economic slump in 2008.
At his sentencing, Bonventre suggested he was another Madoff victim.
"I was used by the ultimate conman. He was a manipulator beyond manipulator," Bonventre told the judge. "Everyone was expendable ... Bernard Madoff lied to me every day and I believed and trusted him."