The ongoing case against five former employees of Bernard Madoff continued this past week as the judge called a recess for the jurors to review the testimony of star prosecution witness Frank DiPascali.
According to USA Today, the panel of jurors made up of nine women and three men made the request to deliberate after several hours of consideration. This proceeding is the first Madoff-related case to be weighed by a jury.
A former stockbroker, investment advisor and financier, Madoff admitted to his operation in the Ponzi scheme, which is considered to be the largest financial fraud in the US. Madoff stole an estimated $20 billion from thousands of investors and pleaded guilty without standing trial in December 2008. He is now serving a 150-year prison term. If found guilty, the ex-employees face decades behind bars for knowingly participating and profiting from Madoff’s fraud.
The USA report states that the jurors requested testimonies for former Madoff operations manager Daniel Bonventre, as well as by Enrica Cotellessa-Pitz, who like DiPascali pleaded guilty in the massive Ponzi scheme and testified against their former co-workers. The other defendants include Annette Bongiorno, who handled the financier's top clients, JoAnn Crupi, who oversaw the company's bank account, and former Madoff computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.
All of the employees pleaded innocent and insisted throughout the trial that they were unwittingly tricked into performing job assignments that enabled the scam to operate for decades, according to the report.
The heart of the case for both sides was the relative credibility of DiPascali, who was a manager of the disgraced financier's investment advisory division in Manhattan. During weeks on the witness stand, DiPascali testified that Madoff never carried out the financial trading promised to investors and specifically linked each defendant to the fraud.
“Defense lawyers characterized DiPascali as a convicted perjurer who would say and do anything to lighten his expected sentence. But prosecutors repeatedly stressed that DiPascali would face additional criminal charges and prison time if he lied on the witness stand,” USA today stated.