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Jury in Madoff employees' trial to start deliberating Monday

Annette Bongiorno leaves federal court in Manhattan on

Annette Bongiorno leaves federal court in Manhattan on Feb. 24, 2014. Bernard Madoff's longtime secretary was sentenced to 6 years in prison on Dec. 10, 2014. Credit: AP / Seth Wenig

A federal judge began giving legal instructions Friday to the jury hearing charges that five former employees of Bernard Madoff abetted his $17.5 billion Ponzi scheme.

Judge Laura Taylor Swain of U.S. District Court in Manhattan sent the jury home late in the day. The jury in the 5-month trial is expected to begin deliberating Monday.

Much of Friday's morning court session was devoted to a prosecution rebuttal to closing arguments by defense lawyers earlier in the week and legal sparring over the jury instructions.

In the rebuttal, Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson scoffed at the notion argued by defense lawyers during their summations that their clients were unaware of the scheme.

Jackson pointed to testimony that Madoff often went on vacations to the south of France, sometimes for two straight weeks, and said the swindler would never have left his business in the hands of people who were unaware of the scheme and might discover it in his absence.

"He had the A-team running things for him," Jackson told the jury.

The defendants are former Madoff secretary Annette Bongiorno, 65, of Manhasset; computer programmer Jerome O'Hara, 50, of Malverne; operations manager Daniel Bonventre, 66, of Manhattan; former accounts manager Joann Crupi, 52, of Westfield, N.J.; and former programmer George Perez, 47, of East Brunswick, N.J.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew Schwartz said in his opening statement on Oct. 16 that "a fraud of this scope and duration could not have been carried out alone."

The five defendants are charged with conspiracy to commit securities and mail fraud, and to falsify records of a broker-dealer and an investment adviser. If convicted of securities fraud, they face up to 20 years in prison.

The Ponzi scheme started as early as the 1970s, according to the indictment. Madoff, who pleaded guilty in March 2009 and was sentenced to 150 years in prison, has said his scheme began in the early 1990s.

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