Former back-office director Daniel Bonventre, computer programmers
George Perez and Jerome O'Hara and portfolio managers Annette
Bongiorno and Joann Crupi told U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor
Swain that the government's evidence could not support the verdict
and that prosecutors had delivered inappropriate and inflammatory
"While we generally have great faith in the jury system, we
earnestly believe that this is one of those rare cases where the
jury's verdict reflects a grave miscarriage of justice," wrote
Perez's lawyer, Larry Krantz, in a motion filed on Tuesday.
The defendants, found guilty after one of the longest white-collar
trials in New York history, also asked Swain to order a new trial in
A spokeswoman for Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to
Prosecutors had accused the five former employees of helping Madoff
conceal his massive scheme, which lasted for decades and cost
investors an estimated $17 billion in principal. Madoff, 75, is
serving a 150-year prison sentence after pleading guilty in March
2009. He has claimed sole responsibility for the fraud.
Nine other people have pleaded guilty in connection with the scheme,
some of whom appeared as government witnesses at the trial pursuant
to plea agreements.
There was little dispute that the defendants had engaged in
activities such as backdating fake trades and creating falsified
documents. But the employees argued at trial that they were unaware
at the time that they were doing anything illegal, blinded by
Madoff's considerable charm and ability to lie convincingly.
The jury, however, found them guilty on every count.
The acquittal motions focused heavily on the government's closing
arguments, in particular the rebuttal delivered by Assistant U.S.
Attorney Randall Jackson that stood as the final word to the jury.
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The summations, the defense lawyers asserted, misstated the record
and improperly characterized the defense as "ridiculous."
"It quickly became apparent that the government's summation was not
destined to be a traditional summary of evidence, leavened with
argument, but was instead to be a slick and highly orchestrated
production aimed at lumping the five defendants together in an
undifferentiated mass," Crupi's lawyer, Eric Breslin, wrote.
Several defense lawyers faulted Jackson for invoking former U.S.
District Judge Constance Baker Motley, a civil rights activist and
the first African-American chief judge in Manhattan federal court,
suggesting it was an attempt to make a racial appeal to the jurors,
many of whom were African-American.
The defendants also contended that the evidence introduced at trial
was not enough to support a guilty verdict, with Breslin claiming
the convictions were "based on nothing more than speculation and
government wishful thinking."
If Swain denies the motions, the defendants are expected to appeal
their convictions to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The five defendants are scheduled to be sentenced in July.
(Reporting by Joseph Ax; editing by Tom Brown)
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