Madoff Ops. Chief, Programmers Plead Not Guilty To Ponzi Charges

Mar 29 2010 | 12:57pm ET

Three former employees of arch-fraudster Bernard Madoff have pleaded not guilty to charges that they participated in Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Daniel Bonventre, the former operations director at Madoff’s firm, and two computer programmers, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, are charged with falsifying records. Bonventre, who was originally charged last month but was added to the O’Hara-Perez case on Wednesday, is also charged with securities fraud, false filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, and filing false tax returns. O’Hara and Perez are also charged with conspiracy.

O’Hara and Perez were first charged in November. All three are free on bail, and entered their pleas in Manhattan federal court on Thursday. Their next court date is scheduled for April 12.

If convicted, the former programmers face up to 30 years in prison; Bonventre faces up to 20 years.

All told, six people have been charged in the case. The other three, including Madoff himself, pleaded guilty; CFO Frank DiPascali and former Madoff auditor David Friehling are cooperating with investigators. Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence for running the Ponzi scheme, believed to be the largest in history.

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