Last night ABC premiered the first of its two-part mini-series Madoff, based on the infamous investor Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme that lost people, companies, and charities billions of dollars after his fraudulence was revealed. While he was the mastermind behind the scandal, there were a handful of others who were also charged with being a part of the scheming, including Joann “Jodi” Crupi, who Bernie (Richard Dreyfuss) refers to his portfolio manager as “Annette’s best friend’s cousin’s lesbian girlfriend.” (Annette Bongiorno was another employee that was also charged for her involvement.)
photos via ABC
Eva Kaminsky plays Jodi, who handled investor funds for Bernie L. Madoff Investment from 1983 to 2008. Although she’s not a huge part of the mini-series, she played a large role in the secretive 17th floor cover-up. On Madoff, Jodi is quiet and stern, Bernie noting that her “only job is knowing the daily balance of the fund,” which is to say, the actual amount of money they have to shuffle around to pay investors when they want to take their money out. The Daily Beast writes, “Every day, she gave Bernie a hand-written accounting about how much money was actually in the bank and how much customers were seeking to withdraw.”
But while Jodi, Annette, and VP Frank DiPascali are in on the scheme in a dingy downstairs office, upstairs Bernie has a beautiful expansive office employing members of his family, including sons Andrew and Mark, the latter of which getting nosy when he feels he’s being overlooked and goes down to the 17th floor to snoop around. Jodi isn’t thrilled, to say the least.
Bernie’s employees, even those like Jodi, who reportedly knew what he was doing was illegal, were faithful to him, helping him to keep up appearances for years while benefitting from the millions he made as well. You can read the complaints against Jodi on the Department of Justice’s official site, which also details how she put in a cash offer for $2.22 million on a home in New Jersey and how the money was traced through bank accounts also used to hide funds as part of Bernie’s corruption. She was arrested at that home in 1999 and indicted, alongside Annette and two other computer programmers and manager Daniel Bonventre.
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“A house of cards is almost never built by one lone architect,” said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. “Year after year, Annette Bongiorno and Joann Crupi protected and perpetuated the Madoff mirage.” The Daily News also noted “Crupi said nothing during her Manhattan Federal Court appearance. She did exchange glances with her partner, Judy Bowen, who was seated in the courtroom’s front row.”
Business Insider tells the story of Jodi calling them for advice, and telling the story of how she ended up working for Bernie in the first place: a temp agency placed here there to do clerical work for less than $15k a year.
“I was intimidated by Madoff,” Jodi said. “His name was on the door of the business and he wielded so much power on Wall Street. For the first several years of my employment, I had a very limited role at the company.”
But her continued hard work and loyalty was what encouraged Bernie to give her more “responsibility,” which led to the charges against her including “conspiracy, securities fraud, falsifying books and records, and tax evasion,” all of which Jodi claims she wasn’t aware of; that she didn’t understand what she was doing outside of following instructions and allegedly thought “the trades executed on behalf of IA clients were being done overseas.”
Jodi faced up to 65 years in prison, but in 2014, she was sentenced to six years, leaving her partner, Judy Bowen, and two adopted sons on the outside as she serves her time.
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According to Jodi, her former co-worker Frank DiPascali lied and “told the prosecutors that I knew what I was doing.”
“The prosecutors refused to deal with me because I didn’t have any information to provide,” Jodi told BI. “I couldn’t cooperate because I didn’t have any idea that a fraud was taking place. .. Like many other people in the firm, I trusted him as a friend and a mentor at work. I certainly wasn’t in a position to know our firm was deceiving thousands of people. They defrauded my partner and me out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, too.”
ABC’s Madoff certainly makes it seem like Jodi, Frank and Annette were purposefully faking documents when the SEC came into investigate. Jodi is seen falsifying a 15-year document, even putting it into a microwave to ensure it looks aged.
She told the court, “I cannot begin to tell you the immense sorrow I feel for the thousands of victims of Bernard Madoff… Helping to deceive and cheat these people is so hard for me to accept. I am so ashamed.”
Jodi is now serving her time at a minimum-security prison camp in Alderson, West Virginia, most famous for being Martha Stewart‘s home for five months in 2004. Tune into ABC’s second part of Madoff tonight to see how things end for her in their version.