Newspaper article International New York Times

Madoff Accountant Who Testified Avoids Prison

Newspaper article International New York Times

Madoff Accountant Who Testified Avoids Prison

Article excerpt

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced David G. Friehling to a year of home detention and another year of supervised release, noting that he had cooperated extensively with federal prosecutors.

By his own admission, David G. Friehling was not much of an auditor for Bernard L. Madoff -- pretty much rubber-stamping financial statements for the man who masterminded an enormous Ponzi scheme.

As a cooperating witness, however, Mr. Friehling won plaudits from federal prosecutors, and because of that he will not serve any time in prison for his role in the financial fraud, which lasted more than two decades.

A federal judge on Thursday sentenced Mr. Friehling, 55, to a year of home detention and another year of supervised release. Judge Laura Taylor Swain of Federal District Court in Manhattan noted that Mr. Friehling had cooperated extensively with federal prosecutors, including testifying for several days during a lengthy trial last year that resulted in the convictions of five former employees of Mr. Madoff's securities firm.

Mr. Friehling could have been sentenced to more than 100 years in prison for his part in the Ponzi scheme that authorities estimate caused investors to lose $17.5 billion in principal and tens of billions more in paper wealth.

To some degree, ignorance worked in Mr. Friehling's favor when it came to sentencing.

Federal prosecutors, in arguing for a lenient sentence for Mr. Friehling, who also served as a personal accountant for Mr. Madoff and his sons, said he had been unaware of the full extent of Mr. Madoff's long-running scheme. But that was only because Mr. Friehling had "abdicated" his responsibilities as the firm's auditor and approved the financial statements Mr. Madoff gave him without asking any questions.

"His crime came down to his failure to do his job," said Randall W. Jackson, an assistant federal prosecutor under Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for Manhattan.

Mr. Friehling, addressing the court before Judge Swain handed down her sentence, apologized to the thousands of victims of Mr. …

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