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Witness testifies Madoff paid off aides

Bernard Madoff told a computer programmer who was suspicious about altering records of customer accounts, "I'll give you some money, just do it," according to secondhand testimony Tuesday at the trial of five Madoff aides at federal court in Manhattan.

Matthew Cohen, a partner at a consulting firm hired to assist in the winding down of Madoff's firm, testified that the conversation was recounted to him in 2008 by programmer George Perez, one of the aides charged with assisting the Ponzi scheme.

"He told me Mr. Madoff had asked him to make changes to the program to modify past account statements that had been sent to customers," Cohen testified. ". . . He was uncomfortable doing that, and Mr. Madoff told him, 'I'll give you some money, just do it' and he did it."

Prosecutors claim that Perez and fellow programmer Jerome O'Hara, a co-defendant, each got $100,000 payoffs from Madoff to paper over the dispute. But Perez has denied making the statement to Cohen, and contends that Madoff told the programmers they didn't have to do any work that made them suspicious.

In other testimony, Meaghan Schmidt, a colleague of Cohen, said that just after the 2008 collapse of Madoff's firm, another defendant, former Madoff operations director Daniel Bonventre, admitted withdrawing his savings from the money manager two years earlier, in 2006.

"He said he woke up with a sick feeling in his stomach one morning questioning the consistently high returns he received in that account," she testified.

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