Bernard Madoff planned every detail of his firm’s demise in the days before he was arrested five years ago to avoid being marched past his 200 employees in handcuffs, the con man’s former finance chief told a jury.
Madoff, in papers spread across his desk, wrote a series of names and dates in a schedule of events leading up to the exact day his $17 billion Ponzi scheme would finally come to light, Frank DiPascali, the former executive, testified in Manhattan federal court in the trial of five ex-colleagues.
DiPascali, who joined Madoff’s company as a researcher in 1975, said he learned of the plan during a private meeting on Dec. 3, 2008, about a week before his arrest, after Madoff had been “staring out the window all day.”
“He turned to me and said, crying, ‘I’m at the end of my rope,’ ” DiPascali told a jury. When DiPascali expressed confusion, Madoff shouted, “I don’t have any more goddamned money – don’t you get it? The whole goddamn thing is a fraud!”
DiPascali is the highest-ranking former Madoff executive to testify in the first criminal trial stemming from the scheme, which was exposed after Madoff’s arrest by federal authorities at his Manhattan apartment on Dec. 11, 2008. Five of his former employees are on trial in federal court in Manhattan, accused of aiding his fraud for decades and getting rich in the process.
At the meeting, Madoff told DiPascali to close his office door before revealing the fraud they’d worked on together for decades was actually a Ponzi scheme that would soon collapse, DiPascali said. The former finance chief said that while he knew he’d been lying to customers and regulators for years about fake trades, he didn’t know the firm was out of money.
Madoff told DiPascali he would soon meet with a lawyer, Ira Sorkin, to make arrangements for turning himself in and avoid being taken from his office in custody, DiPascali said.
“I can’t let that happen – I have to do this on my terms,” Madoff said, according to DiPascali. The con man was “delirious” and incoherent as he discussed the plan, he said.