Tandem Trial Set for Accused Madoff Cohorts

     MANHATTAN (CN) – Former executives charged with helping Bernard Madoff perpetrate the largest Ponzi scheme in history cannot untangle their cases from each other, a federal judge ruled Tuesday.
     Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno, Joann “Jodi” Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez are listed together on an indictment of longtime employees of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC.
     A superseding indictment filed in October alleged that the conspiracy started “at least in the early 1970s,” revising the prosecution’s original belief that it started in 1992.
     The new information also added “a variety of new charges against the defendants, including bank fraud charges related to both corporate and personal loans, and new tax offenses,” the FBI explained.
     As the quintet prepares for trial, three of them – Bonventre, O’Hara and Perez – tried to have a jury hear their cases separately to avoid being tarred with the alleged misdeeds of their co-defendants.
     In addition, Bonventre, Bongiorno and Crupi asked to sever the trial of their tax, Employee Retirement Income Security Act and bank fraud counts.
     U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain shot down those bids on Tuesday.
     “The court finds that the charges against all of the defendants are sufficiently interconnected to warrant trying all of the defendants jointly,” Swain wrote. “Bonventre, O’Hara and Perez have not shown that a joint trial with the other Defendants will prejudice them to a degree amounting to a miscarriage of justice.”
     Swain said she could craft instructions to minimize the risk that the association will taint a jury.
     The quintet had more success with their demand that the government provide more detail about the evidence to be used against them at trial.
     “Considering the generic categories of documents listed in the indictment, the fact that the charges in the indictment span decades, the sheer volume of documents at issue in this case, the number of defendants allegedly involved and the difficulty for the defendants in determining which defendant is alleged to have produced, or been involved in producing, each document, the court finds that the particular circumstances of this case warrant earlier disclosure of the government’s exhibit copies and list than the date proposed by the government,” the 22-page order states.
     Prosecutors must turn over the complete list and copies of the exhibits at least 60 days before trial.
     In most of the remainder of the order, both parties make some headway – and some setbacks – in gaining evidence that they sought during discovery.
     Attorneys for the former executives were not able to immediately respond to a request for comment.
     The next pre-trial hearing is set for June 10 at 3 p.m.

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