Madoff’s Screw Sculpture Excluded From Evidence at Trial
Prosecutors at the trial of five ex-employees of Bernard L. Madoff were barred from telling jurors about a sculpture of a screw their boss kept in his office after defense lawyers said the evidence would be crude.
The sculpture was recovered from Madoff’s office after his 2008 arrest for masterminding a Ponzi scheme that cost investors about $17 billion in lost principal. Five former Madoff employees are facing trial in federal court in Manhattan for aiding the fraud. U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain yesterday granted a defense request and prohibited the government from showing jurors the sculpture or photographs of it, after defense lawyers complained of the artwork’s “colloquial inference.”
“See if you can get that screw out of the pictures” of Madoff’s office, Swain told prosecutors.
The five defendants -- Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno, Jerome O’Hara, George Perez and Joann Crupi -- are scheduled to go on trial Oct. 7, with the start of jury selection. Next week, a panel of 400 potential jurors will be called in to complete a questionnaire.
Swain said jurors wouldn’t be told about the suicide of Madoff’s son Mark or about luxury items bought by several defendants. Prosecutors may tell jurors about a beach house Crupi bought with a $2.7 million bonus, the judge said.
The five defendants, who deny wrongdoing, are accused of helping maintain fake trading records at Madoff’s firm and aiding him in other ways. Prosecutors said their case may last 12 weeks, followed by defense cases.
The case is U.S. v. O’Hara, 10-cr-00228, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).