Five former Bernard Madoff employees will tomorrow become the first to face a trial stemming from the $65 billion Ponzi scheme.
The trial of Annette Bongiorno, Daniel Bonventre, Joann Crupi, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez could last as long as five months, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain has said. The five are accused of aiding and abetting Madoff's fraud, which unraveled in late 2008.
Jury selection will begin tomorrow, with a pool of 400 potential jurors. Frank DiPascali, the Madoff firm's former CFO, is expected to be the prosecution's star witness. DiPascali is one of nine people, including Madoff himself, who pleaded guilty in the case; a 15th person, accountant Paul Konigsberg, was arrested last week and pleaded not guilty.
All five of the lieutenants facing trial tomorrow deny that they knew about Madoff's fraud. Bongiorno was Madoff's longtime secretary, Bonventre the firm's operations director, Crupi handled its cash balances, and O'Hara and Perez were computer programmers.