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Madoff Employee Wasn't Splurging On Things Except When She Was Buying Bentleys, Benzes and Luxury Condos In Boca

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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]