BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - More arrests in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. Prosecutors have charged two of his employees with fraud and say they falsified records duping investors.
Annette Bongiorno of Boca Raton was Bernie Madoff's personal secretary and part of his inner circle. Officials have nabbed her saying she took part in the massive fraud that fleeced investors out of $20 billion and landed Madoff in prison.
Now, she too may one day join him there. "She's completely innocent," said Nina Mandel, Bongiorno's defense attorney.
Bongiorno had little to say as she left federal court in West Palm Beach. Bongiorno's husband, walked alongside her, said nothing as he made his way to his car after his wife appeared in court.
Bongiorno was arrested at her home in Boca Raton valued at $1.1 million in the swanky Woodfield Country Club.
In a lengthy federal indictment out of New York, she is charged with tax evasion, falsifying records, securities fraud and conspiracy to commit securities fraud, dating back to at least 1992.
Federal prosecutors made no comment about the case against Bongiorno or why it took so long to charge her -- months after Madoff pled guilty and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.
In court, Bongiorno said little except she understood some of what she is charged with, and that she understands the penalties that await her if she's convicted. A whopping 75 years in prison and fines of $30 to 40 billion which is twice the amount Madoff's victims lost in the pyramid scheme that he masterminded.
Bongiorno is scheduled to be back in federal court in West Palm Beach Monday afternoon for a bond hearing.
A prosecutor told the judge the government wants her bond set at $7.5 million.
Meantime, the other defendant in this case, Joann Crupi, was also arrested Thursday morning at her home in Westfield, New Jersey. Crupi handled investor funds and kept track of the firm's daily cash balance. She was scheduled to appear before a judge Thursday, as well.