Annette Bongiorno was one of Bernie Madoff’s most trusted employees. She was later found complicit in Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. ‘MADOFF: The Monster of Wall Street’ is now streaming on Netflix.
Bernie Madoff was known as one of the most respected Wall Street financiers. This was before it was revealed that he had been running the biggest Ponzi scheme in history.
Madoff was running two businesses, one legitimate and one illegitimate investment advisory business, which enabled him to run the Ponzi scheme. The office of the illegitimate business was on the 17th floor of the Lipstick building.
Madoff’s Ponzi scheme comes to an end in 2008 with the market crash, which resulted in a flurry of withdrawal requests.
Madoff is turned in by his own sons in the same year. He confesses to his crimes and gets sentenced to 150 years in prison.
Madoff takes full responsibility for his crime; he claims he did it all by himself. However, it is assumed that he is protecting his loyal employees, as it is near impossible for one man to run a Ponzi scheme worth about $64 billion for decades.
Annette Bongiorno is one of those employees. Madoff hires her right after she graduates from high school. He hires several other employees like her, believing these young employees would be loyal to him for life, and he is not wrong.
Annette Bongiorno’s work on the 17th floor
Annette Bongiorno was a working-class woman from Queens. She was not highly educated, but she was still hired by Madoff.
The other employees remember her as a stylish woman who always had readily available stacks of cash in her drawer. Furthermore, her lavish lifestyle was supported by Madoff, who often gifted her expensive things.
She is the portfolio manager on the 17th floor, where the main job of the employees is to create fake trades, which is not hard if one knows what traded for what the previous day, but the work there is still complex.
Bongiorno is considered one of the most important players on this floor. She has her own team, and she manages one whole side of the office.
Bongiorno thinks of Madoff as her hero; she practically worships him. This does not go unnoticed by Madoff.
She is one of his most trusted employees; she is in charge of managing his most prominent clients. He heavily relies on her for the smooth functioning of his work on the 17th floor.
Why is Annette Bongiorno found guilty?
When Madoff’s fraud comes to light, the public demands that those who have been facilitating the fraud also be punished. It takes prosecutors several years to put together a case against the employees on the 17th floor and charge them.
Bongiorno denies the charges. Along with the other employees who are charged, she claims that she was not aware that it was a Ponzi scheme.
She knew that the work was not what Madoff said it was, but she never questioned him. As she was recruited right after finishing high school, she did not know how the market operated and did what she was asked to do.
However, her participation was still illegal. Even if she was an unwitting accomplice, she still worked for Madoff for more than 30 years and aided him in his scheme. She reaped several benefits for someone who was merely a secretary or a clerk.
She is convicted of conspiracy and securities fraud, among other things. She is sentenced to six years in prison.
After spending four years in prison, she appeals to be moved to home confinement from the federal prison as she is already 70 at the time. However, her appeal gets rejected by a federal judge.