NEW YORK, Oct. 17 (UPI) -- Five former employees of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff knew what they were doing when they created false records, a New York federal prosecutor says.
In a statement at the start of their trial, Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz sought to debunk claims by Madoff that he acted largely alone in carrying out his multi-billion-dollar Ponzi scheme, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
The defendants, who include two former computer programmers, two former portfolio managers and the company's former operations director are accused of a variety of charges, including securities fraud and creating false books and records.
They had no knowledge of the fraud, their attorneys say.
Schwartz charged the employees generated "millions of pages of lies" in helping Madoff perpetuate his scam, which cost investors an estimated $17 billion over 30 years.
"Nobody here, especially not the United States, is going to dispute Bernie Madoff told a ton of lies," Schwartz said in a 90-minute opening statement. However, he added, "these defendants knew exactly what they were doing."
Frank DiPascali Jr., one of the top officers in Madoff's company, is the government's key witness. He is expected to testify the defendants helped carry out the scheme.
DiPascali pleaded guilty in 2009 to 10 criminal charges. His sentencing has been delayed until after the trial.
Madoff, 75, pleaded guilty to the fraud and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.