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Oldest Madoff Employee Admits to Fudging Records, But Never Suspecting Fraud

On Thursday, Irwin Lipkin, 74, the oldest Madoff employee who was not a Madoff family member, pleaded guilty to falsifying records. Prosecutors said he was part of the conspiracy that began in the 1970s and created Bernard Madoff’s multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

Lipkin admitted he had been fudging records for the better part of three decades, but he never ever suspected fraud. Lipkin, a former controller of Bernard L. Madoff told the court, “While working for Bernie Madoff, I made accounting entries in financial records that I knew were inaccurate … At no time before I retired was I ever aware that Mr. Madoff or anyone else at the company was engaged in the Ponzi scheme reported in the media.”

Lipkin had joined Madoff’s firm in 1964 as the first employee of the firm, who was not a Madoff family member. Even after retiring in 1998, both he and his wife remained on Madoff payroll, did no work, but kept receiving benefits, Lipkin admitted. Prosecutors alleged that Lipkin had begun changing the financial records “as early as the mid 1970s.”

Lipkin’s son, who also used to work for Madoff, pleaded guilty last year to criminal charges of bank fraud and of reporting people as Madoff employees falsely, so they could receive retirement benefits.

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Madoff, 74, pleaded guilty to the fraud originally estimated at $64.5 billion, in 2009, and is currently serving a sentence of 150 years in prison. In June this year, Bernard’s brother Peter Madoff pleaded guilty to criminal charges, and agreed to a 10-year prison term scheduled for sentence in December.

Only five among a dozen or so employees charged in the Madoff case have continued to plead not guilty and will face trial. On Thursday, Lipkin said one among those five, Annette Bongiorno, used to help him falsify trading records.

The case is U.S. v. O’Hara et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 10-cr-228.

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