Five former employees of Bernard L. Madoff on trial over allegations they aided in his $17bn fraud probably scrapped plea talks involving harsh prison terms to gamble for total exoneration from a jury, ex-prosecutors said.
Bloomberg reports that the U.S. had little reason to offer the group leniency in exchange for testimony against others, since Madoff and his top aides had already pleaded guilty, said Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor in Houston who represents defendants accused of white-collar crimes.
'It’s kind of like an airline that only has a couple seats remaining on a flight', said Hilder, who ran the U.S. Justice Department’s organized crime strike force in Houston in the late 1980s. 'There’s no reason to give a discount. They charge a full fare. That principle applies here too'.
Opening statements may begin as soon as today, after U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan completes jury selection that started a week ago. Twelve jurors and six alternates will hear what may become the fullest account of how Madoff carried out the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history.
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image: © Clyde Robinson