Two computer programmers were arrested Friday on charges of helping convicted Ponzi schemer Bernard L. Madoff cover up his illegal operation that bilked thousands of investors out of billions of dollars.
Jerome O’Hara, 46, and George Perez, 43, were arrested Friday morning and charged with conspiracy for falsifying books and records for Madoff’s broker-dealer and investment businesses.
According to the U.S. attorney’s office, O’Hara and Perez worked for Madoff beginning in 1990 and 1991, respectively, and were primarily responsible for developing and maintaining computer programs that supported Madoff’s investment business. Many of the programs ran on an IBM server known within the firm as “House 17.”
Between 2004 and 2008, Madoff’s firm underwent five reviews by the SEC (U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission) and a European accounting firm. In order to cover up Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, O’Hara and Perez allegedly developed and maintained programs that generated numerous false and fraudulent books and records.
In April 2006, O’Hara and Perez allegedly tried to delete 218 of the 225 programs on House 17 that contained fraudulent information, closed their own investment accounts with Madoff, and withdrew hundreds of thousands of dollars each.
Government prosecutors say Madoff then directed DiPascali to pay O’Hara and Perez “whatever they wanted in order to keep them happy”, essentially bribing them, and both men then received a 25% pay raise and bonuses of $60,000.
Bail for O’Hara and Perez was set at $1 million bond each during a brief Friday afternoon appearance in U.S. District Court in Manhattan. Investigators say between twenty-five and thirty employees, outside accountants and fund managers and Madoff family members could ultimately face criminal charges for their roles.
Madoff, 71, pleaded guilty in March to running a decades long Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of clients of billions of dollars.
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