A federal judge on Monday completed the sentencing of five former aides to Bernie Madoff who were convicted of conspiracy at trial, imprisoning account manager JoAnn Crupi for just 6 years instead of the 14 years prosecutors sought.
Manhattan U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain said she was showing leniency to Crupi -- as she did to the other defendants -- because she knowingly helped Madoff cut corners, but didn't know it was all part of a $20 billion Ponzi scheme and was not the architect.
"Out of personal devotion and her comfort with the lifestyle provided by Madoff Securities, she was compliant with everything and questioned little," the judge said. ". . . She is not fundamentally corrupt."
Crupi, 53, of Westfield, New Jersey, was accused at trial of putting fictional trades on client account statements, using made-up trades on her own Madoff account to reduce her taxes with nonexistent losses, and helping concoct records to fool regulators and auditors.
During the past week, the judge has sentenced co-defendants to less than half of the term sought by the government, provoking thinly veiled criticism from prosecutors that she should show "justice" to victims as well as mercy to defendants.
Former director of operations Daniel Bonventre, 67, of New York City, got 10 years. Madoff secretary Annette Bongiorno, 66, of Manhasset, got 6 years. Computer programmers Jerome O'Hara, 51, of Malverne, and George Perez, 48, of East Brunswick, each got 21/2 years.
All five defendants claimed at trial that they were fooled by Madoff and didn't know they were engaged in fraud. They all plan to appeal their convictions.
Crupi told the judge she was ashamed about her role in causing investors to lose money, but portrayed herself as being naive about securities and too compliant. "When things didn't make sense to me, I did what I was told," she told the judge.
But prosecutor John Zach said that, over two decades, Crupi learned investors were being lied to, but was wedded to her big salaries, choosing "self-interest over the right thing."
Defense lawyer Eric Breslin, Crupi and her spouse, Judith Bowen, all made emotional pleas for leniency, focused on her adoption of two infants from a Guatemalan orphanage. "They've been abandoned once," Breslin said. "Let us not abandon them again."
But Swain said all families are hurt when a parent commits a crime. "Unfortunately, these circumstances are not unusual," she told Crupi.
Swain ordered Crupi to spend 2 years in home confinement after prison and forfeit $33.9 billion jointly with other Madoff defendants.
Eight ex-Madoff aides who pleaded guilty to crimes must still be sentenced.