Saturday, 25 February 2017
Last updated 20 hours ago
Mar 7 2014 | 3:04am ET
The government’s fraud case against five former Bernard Madoff employees is built on the testimony of a man whose capacity for lying is exceeded only by that of Madoff himself, lawyers for the defendants said yesterday.
Representatives of two of the five defendants made their closing arguments yesterday as the five-month-long trial draws to a close. Both sought to undermine Frank DiPascali, Madoff’s former finance chief, whose testimony stretched for weeks as he described how the $65 billion Ponzi scheme operated—and how the defendants knowingly helped keep it going for decades.
That story, according to defense attorney Larry Krantz, is just another con job by a “con man’s con man.” Krantz said his client, former Madoff computer programmer George Perez, “was used, abused and manipulated by two of the greatest criminal masterminds of all time: Bermie Madoff and Frank DiPascali.”
Eric Breslin, who represents former portfolio manager JoAnn Crupi, asked jurors to focus on DiPascali’s “corrupt and rotten essence, which permeated this courtroom for a month.”
“Lying was their religion, the very reason for being,” Breslin said of Madoff and DiPascali.
DiPascali has pleaded guilty and is cooperating with prosecutors. While he testified that the five defendants—in addition to Perez and Crupi, they are former operations director Daniel Bonventre, former portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno and former computer programmer Jerome O’Hara—knew about the fraud, he also admitted that he routinely lied to them.
“If they’re in on the fraud, why on earth does Frank DiPascali have to lie over and over to get them to do his dirty work?” Krantz asked. “It makes no sense.” Krantz told the jury that DiPascali “lost a grasp of truth and falsity a long time ago.”
In his closing, Breslin pointed to Buell Frazier, who drove Lee Harvey Oswald to work on the day Oswald assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Noting that Frazier was vilified even though he had no knowledge of Oswald’s plans, Breslin said, “there were a lot of blameless people at Madoff Securities.”
Closing arguments are expected to extend into next week, before the case—the first time anyone has gone to trial in the Madoff matter—goes to the jury.