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5 ex-staffers convicted of aiding Madoff’s fraud

NEW YORK — Five former employees of imprisoned financier Bernard Madoff were convicted Monday at the end of a six-month trial that cast them as the long arms of their boss, telling an elaborate web of lies to hide a fraud that enriched them and cheated investors out of billions of dollars.

The trial was the first to result from the massive fraud, revealed in December 2008 when Madoff ran out of money and was arrested. And it was a renunciation of Madoff’s claim when he pleaded guilty to fraud charges in March 2009 before trial that he acted alone.

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‘‘The evidence was just overwhelming,’’ juror Craig Parise told reporters.

Another juror, Sheila Amata, said she hoped ‘‘this brings some level of closure’’ for the victims. She said the ‘‘facts spoke for themselves’’ and that Madoff, 75, who is serving a 150-year prison sentence, ‘‘seemed to have a split personality.’’

Evidence showed him showering employees, friends, and select customers with favors and riches while he plundered the investment accounts of others.

The case focused on five people who prosecutors said helped Madoff carry out the fraud.

Each was convicted of conspiracy to defraud clients, securities fraud, and falsifying the books and records of a broker dealer. Prosecutors obtained convictions on all 31 charges, though only one defendant was charged in some counts.

Prosecutors proved charges against Annette Bongiorno, Madoff’s longtime secretary; Daniel Bonventre, his director of operations for investments; JoAnn Crupi, an account manager; and Jerome O’Hara and George Perez, computer programmers.

The maximum potential sentences range from 78 to 220 years in prison when the charges for each defendant are stacked up, but actual sentences are likely to be far below that once the judge takes into consideration prior records and other facts.

After sentencings were set for the last week of July and US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain rejected requests that the defendants be immediately detained, the defendants emerged from court to hug family members. They declined to comment.

Bonventre attorney Andrew Frisch said they were disappointed by the verdicts and will appeal.

‘‘The list of Bernard Madoff’s victims now include these five former employees,’’ Frisch said.

Attorney Eric Breslin, representing Crupi, said: ‘‘The name Madoff was a tall mountain to climb. I think it’s just a fact.’’

US Attorney Preet Bharara said the convictions, along with prior guilty pleas from Madoff and eight others, demonstrate what prosecutors have believed since the early stages of the investigation: ‘‘This largest-ever Ponzi scheme could not have been the work of one person.’’

One case remains, that of a former senior tax partner at the accounting firm Konigsberg Wolf & Co. who was charged with aiding Madoff by directing others to falsify records to conceal his fraud.

Clients lost nearly $20 billion. A court-appointed trustee has recovered much of the money. When the fraud was revealed, Madoff admitted the nearly $68 billion he claimed existed in accounts was only a few hundred million dollars.

Defense lawyers, in their closing arguments, hammered at the notion that their clients were victims, too, losing tens of millions of dollars they had entrusted to their boss.

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