Monday, December 13, 2010
Madoff's secretary who made millions from ponzi schemer may go to jail because she can't make bail
Bernie Madoff's secretary, who made millions from the ponzi schemer, could go from her big house to THE big house because she can't make the $5 million bail.
Annette Bongiorno, 62, is having trouble getting friends and family to co-sign on a bond package because of the notoriety of the case, her defense lawyers said Monday morning.
"You've got people hanging themselves" because of the shameful nature of the case, lawyer Roland Riopelle said, referring to Saturday's suicide of Madoff's son, Mark.
A federal judge on Monday gave her lawyers until Thursday to work out a deal with prosecutors to release Bongiorno, who remains temporarily on house arrest in her luxury Florida home.
Bongiorno made $14 million by investing $920,000 with her now-jailed boss, say prosecutors, who allege she knew all about Madoff's ponzi shenanigans over the 40 years she served him.
The feds are demanding all of the money back and are putting her on trial for conspiracy, tax evasion and other charges.
She faces more than 75 years in prison if convicted.
Defense lawyers say there is only a little more than $2.4 million left in cash and investments.
"Frankly the window is closing," Federal District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said. "We do need to get the proceeding going here."
Swain said if defense lawyers and Manhattan federal prosecutors can't agree on a bail package and co-signers for Bongiorno's release, then she will have to move to "less comfortable" quarters.
The judge suggested a compromise at one point - she might allow co-signers too "shy" to face an outraged public for helping with a Madoff-related bail package keep their names out of the public record.
Prosecutors have so far rejected some of the co-signers as too poor and with too few assets.