NEW YORK – In December 2008, two of Bernard Madoff’s most loyal employees met on a Manhattan street corner and fretted over a closely held secret that the rest of the world would learn about eight days later: that their boss was a con man for the ages.
Frank DiPascali told JoAnn Crupi that Madoff had just confided that his investment firm was out of money and that client accounts – worth billions on paper – actually had no more value than Monopoly money, authorities say. The pair then is alleged to have cooked up a cover story that quickly collapsed under the weight of the largest Ponzi scheme in history — one authorities say cost investors an estimated $17.3 billion.
The exchange was recounted for the first time in a newly rewritten indictment this week expanding the case and charges against five defendants headed for a trial next year.
The indictment brings into sharper focus the final few years of a fraud the government says dated to at least the early 1970s, two decades before Madoff claimed it began and well before 1992, when the government said in its original case against the defendants that the conspiracy began.
Those facing a criminal trial next year are Annette Bongiorno, 64, Madoff’s longtime secretary and a supervisor in his private investment business; Daniel Bonventre, 65, his director of operations for investments; Crupi, 51, who managed accounts; and two computer programmers, Jerome O’Hara, 49, and George Perez, 46. All have pleaded not guilty.
Besides the 74-year-old Madoff, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence, six others have pleaded guilty in the case.