Annette Bongiorno, Madoff Aide Falls Under Suspicion
The Tuesday February 27th 2009 edition of The Telegraph (London) contains an article entitled Madoff Aide Falls Under Suspicion written by James Quinn. This article concerns one Annette Bongiorno, who served as a long-time employee to Bernie Madoff and who apparently was active in recruiting friends and associates from her former Howard Beach neighborhood in the borough Queens as investors in the Madoff investment scheme.
Apparently Annette (Argese) Bongiorno lived next door to Frank DiPascali, Bernie's chief assistant and self-proclaimed chief financial officer of Madoff's investment operation. She started working for Bernard Madoff Investment Securities sometime during the 1980s when there were no more than three dozen employees and the firm was located downtown near Wall Street. During those early years, Mrs. Bongiorno was Bernie Madoff's personal secretary as well as performing various clerical duties, particularly for long-time investors with Bernie.
In more recent years, Mrs. Bongiorno apparently moved to a house worth $2.6m in Manhasset, Long Island. Her husband Rudy is a retired electrician. One might reasonably wonder how a former secretary and city electrician might be able to afford such a relatively expensive property. Perhaps it was due to the compensation from running what were known as "RuAnn" accounts? What management fees and/or commissions were paid to this couple for the funds that their friends and associates invested with Madoff? Were those fees ever disclosed to anyone?
Bloomberg News reports that a number of investors from their old Howard Beach neighborhood appear on the customer list submitted to the bankruptcy court by trustee Irving Picard. The Bloomberg story notes that one Ann Casalotti lives in the same house that Mrs. Bongiorno once lived and that she was one of the many investors in the Madoff fraud scheme.
Other investors from that neighborhood apparently include DiPascali’s brother-in-law Robert Cardile, a longtime Madoff worker. Both Frank DiPascali and Robert Cardile now live in Bridgewater, New Jersey. The list also includes the estate of John Argese; Bongiorno’s maiden name is Argese. According to one "RuAnn" investor, both DiPascali and Bongiorno told his family after Madoff’s arrest that they had nothing to do with any wrongdoing. DiPascali said his own mother lost money invested with Madoff, according to that investor.
Toomre Capital Markets LLC ("TCM") is struck how every principal participant around Bernie Madoff claims that either they personally or their family members (or their trusts) were invested in the Madoff pool and hence suffered losses alongside other investors. These protests of ignorance and innocence as indicated by their own investments make one wonder whether there might have been some type of organized activity to protect the "feeder fund" organizers and other professional service providers should the Madoff Ponzi scheme blow-up. To Toomre Capital Market LLC's knowledge, every single "feeder" and accountant around Madoff has thus far used this defense. Does not this fact seem rather odd and extremely unlikely?