© Photographers: Michael Nagle, Louis Lanzano, Jin Lee, Peter Foley/Bloomberg
The five former aides to Bernard Madoff accused of aiding his $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme are (L-R) Daniel Bonventre, Jerome O'Hara, Annette Bongiorno, George Perez, and Joann Crupi.
Five former aides to Bernard Madoff, who spent decades working for his firm, were found guilty of helping run the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history, a $17.5 billion fraud exposed by the 2008 financial crisis.
The three men and two women, hired by Madoff with little financial experience, were convicted on all counts. The defendants failed to persuade a federal jury in Manhattan they were ignorant of the fraud despite being part of the inner circle at his New York-based firm.
Hatched in the 1970s, Madoff's fraud targeted thousands of wealthy investors, Jewish charities, celebrities and retirees. It unraveled in 2008 when the economic crisis led to more withdrawals than Madoff could afford to pay out. In addition to $17.5 billion in principal, it erased about $47 billion in fake profit that customers thought was being held in their accounts.
Today's verdict, after five months of testimony and four days of deliberations, is a major victory for the U.S. government, coming in the only criminal trial brought in the five years since the scam was revealed. Madoff refused to cooperate with prosecutors.
Some clients learned they lost their life savings after Madoff's confession and arrest on Dec. 11, 2008, leading to criticism of regulators who repeatedly overlooked the scam. Madoff, 75, pleaded guilty the next year and is serving 150 years in a North Carolina prison.