Jury Gets Madoff Case In Longest-Ever Trial

Mar 18 2014 | 11:07am ET

The fate of five former Bernard Madoff lieutenants, accused of aiding and abetting his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, is now in the hands of the jury.

The panel began deliberating yesterday afternoon. But with the verdict still likely days or weeks away, the jurors probably already have the distinction of sitting on the longest white-collar trial in the history of Manhattan federal court.

The trial began in October, with U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain predicting that it would take five months. But it has already reached the six-month point.

The jury heard testimony from more than 40 witnesses, as prosecutors argued that the five knowingly helped Madoff continue and cover up his fraud in return for rich monetary rewards, and their defense lawyers insisting that their clients were unaware Madoff was acting illegally. Just one of the witnesses, former Madoff CFO Frank DiPascali, spent more than a month on the stand.

The five defendants are former operations chief Daniel Bonventre, portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi, and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez. Each faces decades or centuries in prison if convicted.

Prior to the Madoff employee trial, the longest-ever white-collar trial in the Southern District of New York was that of Adelphia Communications executives John and Timothy Rigas in 2004. That took five months; the two men were convicted.

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