One of Bernard Madoff’s longest-serving employees was sentenced to 10 years behind bars for helping run a $17.5bn fraud, with the judge giving Daniel Bonventre a break for not being as bad as his former boss. Prosecutors had sought a sentence of more than 20 years.
Bloomberg News reports that Bonventre, 67, ran Madoff’s broker-dealer unit for almost 40 years after being hired in the 1960s. He’s the first of five former Madoff aides to be sentenced, following their conviction in March. The other four are scheduled to learn their fate in the coming days.
While Bonventre knowingly broke the law by filing false documents and misleading investors, he wasn’t aware of Madoff’s Ponzi scheme and didn’t intend to steal from customers the way his “soulless” former boss did, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said today at a hearing in Manhattan.
Swain, who oversaw a five-month trial that ended in a total victory for the government, said the sentence balances the severity of the scheme with Bonventre’s age and the many testimonial letters she received from his family and community members who described him as a kind and caring person. A long sentence is still warranted, the judge said.
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