(Adds details of Konigsberg's cooperation agreement)
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK, June 24 Bernard Madoff's former
accountant pleaded guilty on Tuesday to helping the convicted
swindler perpetrate his massive Ponzi scheme.
Paul Konigsberg, 78, a former senior tax partner at
Konigsberg Wolf & Co, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy
and two counts of falsifying the records of a broker-dealer
before U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in New York. He
also agreed to forfeit $4.4 million.
He became the 15th person to plead guilty or be convicted at
trial in connection with the fraud.
"I'm here today to take responsibility for what I did
wrong," Konigsberg told Swain.
He said he had worked with others at Madoff's firm to
manipulate customer account statements, including by backdating
transactions, and then filed false tax returns based on those
But he said he had not been aware that Madoff's entire
investment advisory business was a massive fraud.
"It's important to me to say that I was not aware of
Madoff's horrific and evil Ponzi scheme that brought so much
suffering to so many," he told Swain.
As part of his plea deal, he agreed to cooperate with
prosecutors, who said in a court filing they would recommend a
lighter sentence if he provided "substantial assistance in an
investigation or prosecution."
It's not clear whether prosecutors are continuing to probe
additional crimes tied to Madoff's fraud; Konigsberg was the
only criminal defendant whose charges remained pending.
Prosecutors said Madoff steered some of his biggest clients
to Konigsberg for accounting services. Konigsberg was handling
more than 300 investment accounts at Madoff when the scheme
collapsed in December 2008, according to prosecutors.
He was also a minority shareholder in Madoff's London-based
affiliate, the only person outside the Madoff family to own a
stake in one of Bernard Madoff's businesses, prosecutors said.
Madoff, 76, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after
pleading guilty in 2009 to running the decades-long fraud that
was uncovered in December 2008 and estimated to have cost
customers more than $17 billion in principal.
Konigsberg's plea came three months after a federal jury
convicted five former Madoff aides on all counts following a
months-long trial in New York.
The aides, including portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno
and Joann Crupi, computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George
Perez, and back-office director Daniel Bonventre, have asked
Swain to throw out their convictions.
Several former Madoff employees who have pleaded guilty
testified for the government at the trial, including Madoff's
former right-hand man, Frank DiPascali.
Other Madoff employees who pleaded guilty included his
brother, Peter; another former accountant, David Friehling; and
Enrica Cotellessa-Pitz, the controller for Madoff's firm.
Konigsberg faces up to 30 years in prison when he is
sentenced, but a maximum sentence is unlikely given his plea
The case is U.S. v. O'Hara et al., U.S. District Court for
the Southern District of New York, No. 10-228.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Jeffrey
Benkoe and Cynthia Osterman)