Prosecutor Says Employees Knew ‘Bernie Claus’ Was Up To No Good

Mar 14 2014 | 10:53am ET

The jury considering the fate of five former Bernard Madoff employees could begin deliberating today, after prosecutors offered a final jab at the group.

Annette Bongiorno, Daniel Bonventre, Joann Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez have insisted that they did not know their boss was running a $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Prosecutor Randall Jackson poured scorn on those contentions yesterday, calling them about as believable as an adult who proclaims a belief in Santa Claus.

“Children always figure it out,” Jackson said of the Santa Claus myth. “Let’s talk about the absurdity of the fundamental premise” that the five could work for Madoff for decades without figuring anything out.

“The notion that the defendants could have engaged in all the activities while believing” that “Bernie Claus” wasn’t doing anything wrong “is ridiculous,” Jackson said in rebuttal to some 20 hours of closing arguments by defense lawyers. “Madoff Securities was not Santa’s factory. The defendants were not children. During the decades they worked at Madoff Securities, they were adults.”

The real reason they kept quiet, Jackson alleged, is much simpler: They did it for the money.

“They each played a critical role” keeping Madoff’s scam alive for four decades, Jackson insisted.

If the jury agrees with him, the five face decades in prison. Madoff himself is serving a 150-year sentence.

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