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Ex-Madoff Aide Says Beach House Isn’t Fair Game for Jury

Former Bernard Madoff employee Joann Crupi wants to prevent prosecutors from telling jurors at her fraud trial that she used a $2.7 million bonus from her ex-boss to buy a beach house.

Crupi, facing a trial scheduled for October with four other former Madoff employees, told a judge in Manhattan federal court that evidence of the 2008 purchase would be “prejudicial.”

“Ms. Crupi’s purchase of a beach house fits within no reasonable construct of relevance,” her lawyer, Eric R. Breslin, said in a memorandum filed yesterday. “This evidence serves one purpose alone -- to inflame the jury and invite them to see Ms. Crupi as living ’the high life’ on the backs of Madoff victims.”

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain set Oct. 7 for the start of a trial against Crupi, Daniel Bonventre, Annette Bongiorno, Jerome O’Hara and George Perez. The defendants, who have all pleaded not guilty, are charged with crimes including conspiracy, fraud and falsifying records.

Crupi, who worked for Madoff’s firm from about 1983 to December 11, 2008, was responsible for tracking and directing money into and out of an account used for the Ponzi scheme, according to a superseding indictment filed in July.

Crupi, along with other defendants, also helped to maintain fake trading records at the firm, the government alleged. She received the $2.7 million cash bonus in 2008 after a European accounting firm conducted an audit of Madoff’s operation, according to the indictment.

The location of the beach house wasn’t specified in the court papers filed yesterday.

The case is U.S. v. O’Hara, 10-cr-00228, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

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