NEW YORK — The notoriety of the Bernard Madoff case — including the recent suicide of the disgraced financier's son — has made it tough for a former back office worker to make bail, her defense attorneys told a judge on Monday.
Lawyers for Annette Bongiorno said the onslaught of negative publicity has discouraged supporters from signing a $5 million bond that would win her release on charges she made millions of dollars by helping Madoff conceal his massive financial swindle.
"Given the notoriety of the case, it's been extremely difficult," attorney Roland Riopelle said in federal court in Manhattan.
Prosecutors argued that stringent bail conditions were appropriate.
"Ms. Bongiorno was not simply a secretary," Assistant U.S. Attorney Julian Moore said. "Ms. Bongiorno was a key player in this fraud."
Bongiorno, 62, is currently under house arrest in Florida. She didn't attend Monday's hearing.
FBI agents arrested Bongiorno and another longtime employee for Madoff's firm, Joann Crupi, last month in the ongoing investigation of the fraud. Bongiorno was picked up at her home in Boca Raton, Florida, while Crupi was arrested at her house in Westfield, New Jersey.
Seized records show that Bongiorno deposited about $920,000 in her own Madoff account from 1975 to 2008 and withdrew more than $14 million over the same period, the indictment says. Prosecutors say she used stolen investor funds to buy expensive homes and cars and to support her unemployed husband.