| NEW YORK, March 6
NEW YORK, March 6 The government's star witness
in the criminal trial of five former Bernard Madoff employees is
a lifelong liar whose "mind-boggling" history of falsehoods robs
him of any credibility, a lawyer for one defendant told a
federal jury on Thursday.
Larry Krantz, who represents computer programmer George
Perez, said former Madoff lieutenant Frank DiPascali was a "con
man's con man" who made a career out of deceiving regulators,
customers and auditors.
"Mr. Perez was used, abused and manipulated by two of the
greatest criminal masterminds of all time: Bernie Madoff and
Frank DiPascali," he told jurors in Manhattan federal court.
Krantz was the first defense lawyer to deliver a closing
statement in the five-month trial, after Assistant U.S. Attorney
John Zach finished his six-hour summation earlier on Thursday.
The five defendants are charged with helping perpetrate a
massive Ponzi scheme at Madoff's investment firm. In addition to
Perez, they include another computer programmer, Jerome O'Hara;
portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi; and the
firm's operations director, Daniel Bonventre.
All five have argued that they were duped by Madoff into
thinking the firm's investment advisory business was legitimate
and only later found out that no trading took place in that
Madoff himself is serving a 150-year prison sentence after
pleading guilty to the scheme, which cost investors
approximately $17 billion in principal losses when it collapsed
Prosecutors have said Perez and O'Hara wrote computer
programs that generated millions of false trading records to
fool U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigators and
Those programs included code that assigned random
transaction numbers, time stamps and even banking counterparties
to make the trading activity seem more real. There could be no
legitimate reason to create such code, Zach said in closing
arguments earlier this week.
The programmers claim they were unaware those programs were
being used to hide the fraud and eventually refused to write
more code when they became uncomfortable about altering past
In his closing arguments on Thursday, Krantz emphasized that
"mere suspicion or discomfort" is not enough on its own to show
that Perez had knowledge of the fraud, a necessary element for
But Krantz also spent much of his time focused on DiPascali,
who spent weeks testifying that all five defendants were
complicit in a dizzying array of fraudulent activity. He is one
of several former Madoff employees who pleaded guilty and agreed
to cooperate with the government in the hopes of receiving less
Krantz pointed out that DiPascali admitted under
cross-examination that he had repeatedly lied to Perez and
O'Hara about the nature of their work to ensure they would help
him perpetuate the fraud.
"If they're in on the fraud, why on earth does Frank
DiPascali have to lie over and over to get them to do his dirty
work?" Krantz said. "It makes no sense."
DiPascali, Krantz added, has lied under oath before, when he
testified before the SEC regarding the firm's purported trading
strategies. He also changed his story several times between his
first meetings with government agents and his testimony at the
trial, Krantz said.
"This is not a typical human being," Krantz told jurors in
Manhattan federal court. "This is a human being who lost a grasp
of truth and falsity a long time ago."
Closing arguments are expected to last several more days.
The case is USA v. O'Hara et al, U.S. District Court,
Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-0228.