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Former Madoff secretary surrenders

Associated Press / December 22, 2010

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NEW YORK — Bernard Madoff’s former secretary surrendered yesterday in Florida after a judge revoked her $5 million bail, saying her access to large amounts of money created “a very real potential’’ she could flee.

US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain rejected the arguments by lawyers for Annette Bongiorno, 62, that her husband should be allowed to post money from his bank accounts to support a bail package. She surrendered to US marshals in West Palm Beach, Fla., before the 3 p.m. deadline set by Swain, said Bongiorno’s lawyer, Maurice Sercarz.

Earlier, the judge ordered her surrender, saying there was a “serious risk the defendant will not appear’’ in court to face charges of conspiracy, securities fraud and falsifying records. The judge cited what she called an abundance of “very strong’’ evidence that there were “unrestrained assets that pose a very real potential for the facilitation of flight.’’ Bongiorno’s next court date is scheduled for Jan. 14.

Bongiorno was arrested last month. Authorities said she helped Madoff cover up a multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme that made her wealthy as it wiped out the life savings of thousands of clients.

Sercarz asked Swain to delay the effect of her ruling to give him time to immediately appeal but she declined.