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Madoff's secretary gets bail, starts house arrest

NEW YORK (AP) -- The longtime secretary of disgraced financier Bernard L. Madoff posted bail Friday and will await her trial on fraud charges while under house arrest.

Annette Bongiorno, 62, of Boca Raton, Fla., was to be released later in the day and taken to her second home in Manhasset, on Long Island. She had been jailed in Manhattan after failing to post $5 million bail.

At a series of bail hearings in recent weeks, prosecutors had sought to convince U.S. District Judge Taylor Swain that Bongiorno should stay locked up because she could use millions of dollars -- purportedly proceeds of Madoff's epic fraud -- to flee.

But after learning that the government had moved to freeze $7.6 million in Bongiorno's assets, Swain agreed to lower the bail to $3 million.

Defense attorney Maurice Sercarz had argued his client "deserves to be at liberty in her own home" while she fights the charges.


Writer faces charges in mother's death

MOUNT VERNON (AP) -- A manslaughter charge has been filed against a freelance writer in the beating death of his 87-year-old mother.

The Westchester district attorney's office says a previous charge of assault was upgraded Friday when 55-year-old Peter Lawrence Herman appeared in Mount Vernon City Court.

Herman was arrested Monday on the assault charge after his mother was beaten at their Mount Vernon home. Claire Herman later died in a hospital.

Court papers said Peter Herman had repeatedly punched his mother in the face and arms.

If convicted, Herman could be sentenced to up to 25 years in prison.

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