Madoff Ops. Chief Gets 10 Years

Dec 9 2014 | 12:53pm ET

One of Bernard Madoff’s top lieutenants was sentenced to a decade in prison yesterday for aiding the arch-fraudster’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme.

Daniel Bonventre worked for Madoff for nearly 40 years, serving as his firm’s operations director. He was convicted in March, alongside four other former Madoff employees, of helping maintain the fraud and hide it from investors and regulators.

“Mr. Bonventre’s meticulous bookkeeping and averted eye allowed Mr. Madoff to engage in his Ponzi scheme for decades,” U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said.

Bonventre’s sentence is the second-longest handed down in the Madoff fraud, after Madoff’s 150 year term itself. Madoff’s brother, Peter, was also sentenced to 10 years for his role in the scheme. Bonventre’s four co-defendants will also be sentenced this week.

In addition to the prison time, the 67-year-old was also ordered to forfeit $155 billion—all of the money that came into or went out of the Madoff firm over its last 19 years.

Bonventre said he would appeal his conviction and insisted at yesterday’s hearing that he did not know about Madoff’s fraud. “I was used by the ultimate con man,” he said. “Bernard Madoff lied to me every day and I believed and trusted him.”

Swain said she didn’t believe that Bonventre knew of the full scale of Madoff’s scam—but that was because he deliberately avoided it, enjoying his life as a “pampered, compliant and overcompensated worker.” She said he had been involved in the conspiracy since at least 1992, but said he did not deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison—prosecutors sought a term of 20 years or more—because he isn’t the “soulless” Madoff.

“You were not an architect of the Ponzi scheme and you are not a person who is evil at heart,” she said.

Still, Swain rejected Bonventre’s request to remain free on bail pending his appeal. He is set to report to prison on Feb. 19; Swain said she would urge the Bureau of Prisons to allow him to spend the last year of his sentence under house arrest.

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