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Ex-Madoff Employee Bonventrre Challenges Asset Freeze

March 7 (Bloomberg) -- A longtime employee of Bernard L. Madoff challenged the government’s freeze on his assets, claiming it interferes with his ability to pay his defense costs.

A lawyer for Daniel Bonventre today asked a federal appeals court to dissolve a freeze on his client’s assets or at least to order a lower court to hold a hearing on the matter. The lawyer, Andrew Frisch, argued to a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in New York that the freeze is preventing Bonventre from paying to defend himself in a case growing out of the biggest fraud in U.S. history.

Bonventre, who worked for Madoff for 40 years, is charged with 22 criminal counts. Frisch, a former federal prosecutor, estimates Bonventre’s defense will cost at least $2.5 million.

“I can’t take a dime from him,” Frisch, a solo practitioner, told the judges.

U.S. prosecutors claim Bonventre’s money is the proceeds of crime and can’t be used to pay his defense team.

Madoff is serving a 150-year sentence for running the biggest Ponzi scheme.

The case is U.S. v. Bonventre, 12-3574, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Manhattan).

To contact the reporters on this story: Bob Van Voris in Manhattan federal court at rvanvoris@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.

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