Annette Bongiorno never wanted anything more than to be Bernie Madoff’s secretary. She didn’t know what a Ponzi scheme was until the day her hero went down, and is still unclear on what exactly the S&P500 or a T-bill are. And it’s not like she backdated the (fake) Lehman stock in her $50 million account to before the bank’s demise because she needed the money—and anyway, Bernie never told her that backdating of trades that hadn’t actually happened was wrong, so how was she to know?

Bongiorno, 65, of Manhasset, a stenographer who had $50 million in her Madoff account when the Ponzi scheme collapsed in 2008, told the jury on Tuesday that the cash wasn’t a payoff for keeping quiet — it was a result of saving and not “splurging” on luxuries.

But in the middle of a four-hour cross-examination Thursday , prosecutor John Zach displayed a picture of a sleek, gray Bentley and asked Bongiorno if that fit in with the parsimony she claimed to practice on shoes and handbags.

“I did not include the Bentley,” she said, calling it “one of my cars.”

Zach followed up with a picture of the exclusive One Thousand Ocean building in Boca Raton, where Bongiorno shopped for an oceanfront condo to replace a second home she had in Florida. She said “downsizing” referred to square feet, not the $6.5 million price tag.

“It’s smaller than my house,” she testified.

Trial: Former Madoff secretary says she ‘downsized’ to $6.5M condo [Newsday]
Madoff Staffer Testifies She Backdated Trades [WSJ]
Madoff’s secretary at fraud trial: ‘I just believed what he told me’ [NYDN]

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Comments (10)

  1. Posted by Wasn't me | February 28, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    This is what happens when you're a mob accountant.

  2. Posted by 1stYearAnalyst | February 28, 2014 at 2:16 PM

    Makes sense. Any secretary who does a great job answering the telephone and running out for ham and ch-ch-cheese sandwiches should be making enough to clear $50mm in the bank, a Bentley in the driveway and a second home worth more than a %6.5mm downsizer condo.

  3. Posted by guest | February 28, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    why does she need to know what the S&P500 or T-bills are when she's making infinite returns back-dating trades.

  4. Posted by huffpo | February 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

    just a victim of the male patriarchy forcing her to rake the $$$ in order to be able to afford a poolboy to conform to society's standards

  5. Posted by ruth | February 28, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Is she the one Bernie was banging?

  6. Posted by Bugsy | February 28, 2014 at 3:48 PM

    This was a mob tribe operation. Like the thirties.

  7. Posted by M. Dell | February 28, 2014 at 3:49 PM

    Exactly… or options.

  8. Posted by guest | February 28, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    She would sound more plausible if her defence was that Bernie paid her $50mm to keep quiet about an affair with him. Given she's no prom queen, who wouldn't want to hide the fact he was bang sesh-ing her.

  9. Posted by Guest | March 1, 2014 at 3:36 AM

    There's never been an NFL fullback with a neck that big.

  10. Posted by UBS quant | March 3, 2014 at 4:20 PM

    I don't get it. What'd she do wrong?