Defense Wraps Up Arguments In Madoff Lieutenant Case

Mar 13 2014 | 11:24am ET

The marathon trial of five former Bernard Madoff employees is nearing its end, after defense attorneys completed more than 20 hours of closing arguments yesterday.

Roland Riopelle, lawyer for former Madoff portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno, wrapped up the defense yesterday, telling the jury that his client did not know that her boss was using her to run a $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

“She may be naïve. She may be foolish,” Riopelle said. “But her naiveté is not nefariousness. Her foolishness is not a fraud.”

His words echoed those of the attorneys for the other four defendants—Daniel Bonventre, Joann Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez—all of whom told the jury that their clients were unaware that they were doing anything wrong.

The case is not quite ready to go to that jury: U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain must still issue her instructions, a process that could take several hours today. Deliberations could begin tomorrow.

The trial of the five has dragged on for five months, and represents the first time anyone in the Madoff case has faced a jury. If convicted, the defendants face decades—or centuries—in prison.

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