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Madoff aide Bongiorno gets 6 years in prison for aiding fraud

Former Madoff Associates Due In Court For Pre Trial HearingFormer Madoff Associates Due In Court For Pre Trial Hearing
Annette BongiornoPhotograph by Michael Nagle — Bloomberg via Getty Images

Another day, another sentencing of a former aide to disgraced hedge fund manager Bernie Madoff.

Annette Bongiorno, who served as a portfolio manager at the firm where Madoff perpetrated his multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme, was sentenced to six years in prison on Tuesday for her role in helping her former boss defraud investors, according to Reuters. Bongiorno is one of five former Madoff aides facing sentencing over the course of a week and her sentence comes one day after a federal judge in New York handed her former co-worker, former Madoff operations director Daniel Bonventre, a 10-year sentence for his role in the scheme.

Prosecutors sought prison terms of up to 20 years each for Bonventre and Bongiorno, while portfolio manager Joann Crupi and computer programmers Jerome O’Hara and George Perez are the next to be sentenced. The five aides were all convicted on multiple counts of conspiracy and fraud in March for their roles falsifying documents and backdating stock trades as part of the massive Ponzi scheme discovered in 2008.

The government is seeking a sentence of at least 14 years for Crupi and more than eight years each for O’Hara and Perez.

Daniel Bonventre, left, Annette Bongiorno, JoAnn Crupi, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.Daniel Bonventre, left, Annette Bongiorno, JoAnn Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez.Photograph by AP/Getty Images

A New York federal judge also ordered the group to forfeit the symbolic amount of $155 billion — which they will not be able to pay in full — as part of the government’s ongoing quest to compensate the investors victimized by the Ponzi scheme. Investors lost more than $17 billion principal through the massive fraud, which has led to the conviction of 15 people. Madoff himself was arrested in 2008 and began serving a 150-year sentence after pleading guilty a year later.

Reuters notes that attorneys for Bongiorno, who worked for Madoff for roughly four decades, had asked the court for leniency and hoped for a sentence between eight and 10 years for their client. Judge Laura Taylor said on Tuesday that Bongiorno deserved some leniency because she was not a “coldly calculating participant” in Madoff’s scheme, but rather had shown willful ignorance of her boss’s fraud, according to Reuters.

(UPDATE: O’Hara received a sentence of 2-1/2 years in prison in a ruling handed down late-Tuesday afternoon.)