| NEW YORK, April 16
NEW YORK, April 16 Five former Bernard Madoff
aides have asked a federal judge to throw out their convictions,
three weeks after a jury found them guilty of fraud and
conspiracy for helping Madoff conceal his multibillion-dollar
Former back-office director Daniel Bonventre, computer
programmers George Perez and Jerome O'Hara and portfolio
managers Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi told U.S. District
Judge Laura Taylor Swain that the government's evidence could
not support the verdict and that prosecutors had delivered
inappropriate and inflammatory closing arguments.
"While we generally have great faith in the jury system, we
earnestly believe that this is one of those rare cases where the
jury's verdict reflects a grave miscarriage of justice," wrote
Perez's lawyer, Larry Krantz, in a motion filed on Tuesday.
The defendants, found guilty after one of the longest
white-collar trials in New York history, also asked Swain to
order a new trial in the alternative.
A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara
declined to comment.
Prosecutors had accused the five former employees of helping
Madoff conceal his massive scheme, which lasted for decades and
cost investors an estimated $17 billion in principal. Madoff,
75, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty
in March 2009. He has claimed sole responsibility for the fraud.
Nine other people have pleaded guilty in connection with the
scheme, some of whom appeared as government witnesses at the
trial pursuant to plea agreements.
There was little dispute that the defendants had engaged in
activities such as backdating fake trades and creating falsified
documents. But the employees argued at trial that they were
unaware at the time that they were doing anything illegal,
blinded by Madoff's considerable charm and ability to lie
The jury, however, found them guilty on every count.
The acquittal motions focused heavily on the government's
closing arguments, in particular the rebuttal delivered by
Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson that stood as the final
word to the jury.
The summations, the defense lawyers asserted, misstated the
record and improperly characterized the defense as "ridiculous."
"It quickly became apparent that the government's summation
was not destined to be a traditional summary of evidence,
leavened with argument, but was instead to be a slick and highly
orchestrated production aimed at lumping the five defendants
together in an undifferentiated mass," Crupi's lawyer, Eric
Several defense lawyers faulted Jackson for invoking former
U.S. District Judge Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights
activist and the first African-American chief judge in Manhattan
federal court, suggesting it was an attempt to make a racial
appeal to the jurors, many of whom were African-American.
The defendants also contended that the evidence introduced
at trial was not enough to support a guilty verdict, with
Breslin claiming the convictions were "based on nothing more
than speculation and government wishful thinking."
If Swain denies the motions, the defendants are expected to
appeal their convictions to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of
The five defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in July.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Tom Brown)