Madoff Controller Pleads Guilty

Dec 21 2011 | 2:08am ET

Bernard Madoff's top in-house bookkeeper has pleaded guilty to cooking those books, but said she had no idea that Madoff was running a massive Ponzi scheme.

Enrica Cotellessa-Pitz, who worked at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities for 30 years and served as its controller, pleaded guilty to four counts on Monday. She admitted she created false stock records, entries in general ledgers and reports to regulators, but denied she knew about the $65 billion scam.

According to Madoff receiver Irving Picard, Cotellessa-Pitz moved hundreds of millions of dollars between Madoff's legitimate trading operations and his fraudulent hedge fund operation.

"Although I now know the crimes I committed helped to cover up and perpetuate Bernard Madoff's fraud, at the time I did not know that Madoff and others were stealing investors' money," Cotellessa-Pitz told U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor.

Cotellessa-Pitz is the sixth person to plead guilty in the case. According to a lawsuit filed against her by Picard, she was involved in a romantic relationship with Madoff CFO Frank DiPascali, who has also pleaded guilty, and is a close friend of Madoff's former secretary, Annette Bongiorno, who has been charged with falsifying account statements and has pleaded not guilty.

Cotellessa-Pitz faces up to 50 years in prison and $97.3 million in forfeitures when she is sentenced on June 22, although prosecutors said she has cooperated in the investigation for "quite a long time now." She has until Jan. 3 to cobble together a $2.5 million bond in order to remain free until her sentencing.

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