Frank DiPascali, Bernard Madoff’s right hand man for 30 years as Madoff orchestrated the his epic Ponzi scheme, died late last week before he could be sentenced for his role in what was likely the largest financial fraud in history.
He was 58 and the cause was cancer, according to a statement released by his lawyer.
DiPascali and a handful of other top staffers at Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities were arrested shortly after their boss was turned in to the FBI by his sons in December 2008. But after years of helping Madoff shield his fraud from clients, regulators and auditors, DiPascali pleaded guilty, flipped and testified against his former co-workers.
His testimony in federal court against his former colleagues computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez, portfolio managers Annette Bongiorno and JoAnn Crupi and operations director Daniel Bonventre, was credited by prosecutors as a key factor in convicting all five for their roles in the scheme.
Unlike DiPascali, all five pleaded not guilty and claimed they were also duped by Madoff. DiPascali’s testimony strongly suggested otherwise and all five were convicted.
The judge who oversaw the case, U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain, hardly viewed DiPascali as a hero, however, criticizing his testimony and saying he played a much bigger role in the scheme than any of the defendants.
Prosecutors praised both his testimony and his cooperation in untangling the decades-long scam that investigators say cost investors more than $17 billion.
“He was grateful to have been able to make some amends by helping the government these past few years. Please respect the family's privacy. There will be no further comment,” DiPascali’s attorney Marc Mukasey said in a statement.
DiPascali faced as much as 150 years in prison and was to be sentenced later this year. An earlier sentencing was postponed after DiPascale was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year.
Born in Queens and with no formal financial training, DiPascali went to work for Madoff in his late teens and remained on board for the next three decades.
Clients who became victims of the fraud told investigators that DiPascali served as the gate keeper to Madoff. Investors who questioned Madoff’s methods usually had to go through DiPascali if they hoped to reach Madoff himself. They were usually unsuccessful.
Madoff also pleaded guilty to an array of crimes and is serving a 150-year sentence in federal prison.