Madoff Aide Bongiorno Seeks End to Pretrial House Arrest

Annette Bongiorno, accused of helping her ex-boss, Bernard Madoff, run a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, asked a federal judge to free her from pretrial house arrest, saying there’s no risk she will flee

Bongiorno, who was released on $3 million bail in January 2011, called her confinement “punitive” and argued that the government consented to the release of Madoff’s brother, Peter, on bond without house arrest or electronic monitoring after he pleaded guilty to federal charges, according to a filing in federal court in Manhattan.

Bongiorno, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges, resides in Manhasset on New York’s Long Island, and has a curfew of 8 p.m. to 8 a.m. from Wednesday through Sunday, Diane Ferrone, one of her lawyers said.

“Continued house arrest is punitive and completely unnecessary to secure Ms. Bongiorno’s appearance at trial,” Diane Ferrone, one of Bongiorno’s lawyers, said today in a phone interview.

“She has been fully compliant with the terms of her bail and there have been zero infractions,” Ferrone said. “Given the government’s consent to Peter Madoff’s release on bail without home confinement, we hope that the government will realize that Ms. Bongiorno should be treated the same.”

Department Store

Since November 2011, Bongiorno has been working at a part-time job at a major department store, Ferrone said. Bongiorno and her husband’s assets have been reduced to $100,000 while the government has restrained all of her other assets.

“The government has consistently taken the position that it would not consent to a modification of her bail conditions so long as Ms. Bongiorno refused to turn over all funds available in the one bank account which the government has, to date, been unable to identify and restrain,” Ferrone and two other defense lawyers, Roland Riopelle and Maurice Sercarz, said in a filing with U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain in Manhattan, who is presiding over the case.

Bongiorno is among five people facing charges of helping Madoff defraud investors of billions of dollars. Prosecutors have argued that Bongiorno is likely to flee. Bernard Madoff, who admitted masterminding the scheme, is serving a 150-year sentence in a North Carolina federal prison.

The case is U.S. v. O’Hara, 10-cr-228, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).