MANHATTAN (CN) – An alleged Bernie Madoff co-conspirator and his wife cannot toss a forfeiture action that jeopardizes money set aside for his legal defense, a federal judge ruled.
A grand jury indicted Daniel Bonventre for securities fraud on Nov. 17, 2010, along with allege co-conspirators Annette Bongiorno, Joann Crupi, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez.
Last December, prosecutors sent Bonventre’s lawyers a letter warning them not to draw from their client’s legal defense fund, which might get seized if the government wins even a portion of its $154.5 billion forfeiture.
Although defense attorneys said the warning interfered with their clients’ rights to an attorney, U.S. District Judge Laura Swain affirmed that the legal defense money was fair game for forfeiture in a decision months later.
Bonventre’s lawyers tried to bat away the forfeiture claims again, raising identical constitutional claims and asserting that the statute of limitations had expired.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones ruled that the constitutional objections already had been mooted. She also pointed out that the standard was within five years after “the offense was discovered,” which was in 2008.
“In light of this limitations period, since Madoff’s crimes were not discovered until December 2008, the court finds that the government’s civil forfeiture action is timely filed under the statute,” the order states.
Bonventre and his alleged co-conspirators also lost their bid to toss their indictment on March 30, in a decision that was later affirmed on appeal.
EDITOR’S NOTE: An earlier version of this article misidentified Annette Bongiorno as the subject of this ruling. Courthouse News regrets the error.