Five ex-Madoff employees lose new bid to void convictions

August 10, 2016 12:28 PM EDT

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By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Wednesday rejected a new bid by five former employees of Bernard Madoff's firm to overturn their convictions for helping their boss conceal his Ponzi scheme, which cost customers more than $17 billion.

The order by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals means former back office director Daniel Bonventre, account managers Annette Bongiorno and JoAnn Crupi, and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez must stay in prison, to serve terms ranging from 2-1/2 years to Bonventre's 10 years.

It may also end the appeals process unless the defendants can persuade the U.S. Supreme Court to review their cases.

Prosecutors accused the defendants of knowingly propping up Madoff's fraud, including by creating fake documents and backdating trades.

A three-judge appeals court panel had upheld the defendants' convictions on April 20. The defendants later asked the full 2nd Circuit to review that decision, but in Wednesday's unsigned order it declined. It did not give a reason.

Lawyers for the defendants had argued that improper conduct by prosecutors, including during closing arguments, tainted their clients' March 2014 convictions.

Bonventre's and Crupi's lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Lawyers for O'Hara and Perez, who are eligible for release on Oct. 26, declined to comment.

Roland Riopelle, a lawyer for Bongiorno, said he will discuss his client's options with her. "The chances of reversal in the Supreme Court are small -- they always are," he said.

Madoff, 78, is serving a 150-year prison term.

The case is U.S. v. Bonventre et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 14-4714, 14-4715, 14-4716, 14-4719, 15-50.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Tom Brown)



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