| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Feb 21 One of five former Bernard
Madoff aides on trial for abetting his massive Ponzi scheme will
face two fewer counts when the case goes to a jury, after a
judge agreed to throw out charges that he arranged for his son
to get a no-show job at the firm.
In an opinion filed late on Friday, U.S. District Judge
Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan federal court granted Daniel
Bonventre's motion to dismiss the counts, which charged him with
violating federal law by causing false documents to be filed
with the Department of Labor.
However, Swain denied motions from Bonventre and from two
other defendants, portfolio manager Annette Bongiorno and Joann
Crupi, to dismiss a number of other counts related to alleged
The lengthy trial, which began in October, is expected to
end within the next two weeks. The five defendants, who also
include former computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George
Perez, have said they were duped by Madoff into believing the
business was legitimate.
Madoff pleaded guilty and is serving a 150-year sentence for
the fraud, which cost investors an estimated $17 billion in
Prosecutors had accused Bonventre, the firm's back-office
director of operations, of arranging for his son Daniel to be
put on the payroll despite living in Los Angeles so he could
receive health benefits.
Bonventre testified this week that his son was hired to work
part-time on "social media" for the firm, though prosecutors
dispute that account.
The charges in question require the government to show that
Bonventre intended that a false document, known as Form 5500,
would be filed showing that his son was a firm employee.
Swain, however, said prosecutors had failed to demonstrate
that Bonventre knew about the form, which was actually filed by
Craig Kugel, another Madoff employee who has pleaded guilty and
testified at trial for the government. A rational jury, she
concluded, could not find him guilty of those violations.
"There is no evidence that Mr. Bonventre directed Mr. Kugel
to prepare or file that form, much less to include any
particular information in the filing," Swain wrote. "Indeed,
there is no evidence that Mr. Bonventre ever reviewed or
participated in the preparation or filing of any Form 5500.
The U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan declined to comment,
as did Bonventre's lawyer, Andrew Frisch.
Bonventre, Bongiorno and Crupi had also sought to dismiss
several other charges related to various tax crimes, but the
judge rejected those requests, finding that the government had
introduced enough evidence to support the allegations.
"It's clear the judge took the motion very seriously," said
Bongiorno's lawyer, Roland Riopelle. "While I disagree with her
ruling, I find absolutely no fault with her efforts."
Crupi's lawyer, Eric Breslin, did not immediately respond to
a request for comment.
The trial continues on Monday. The case is USA v. O'Hara et
al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No.