NEW YORK (AP) — The former right-hand man of disgraced financier Bernard Madoff told a jury Tuesday that a crying Madoff revealed to him his financial empire was a gigantic fraud just before the rest of the world learned the truth nearly five years ago.
Frank DiPascali, Madoff's former lieutenant and the government's star witness at the trial of five former Madoff employees, said Madoff called him into his Manhattan office and told him to close the door behind him on a day Madoff, a former Nasdaq chairman, had spent staring out his window.
"Crying, he said: 'I'm at the end of my rope. I have no more money,'" DiPascali told jurors in federal court on the eve of the five-year anniversary of Madoff's arrest.
He said he asked his boss what he meant.
"I don't have any more goddamned money! Don't you get it?" DiPascali said Madoff responded.
As DiPascali testified, his voice rose and accelerated so fast that the judge directed him to slow down and speak more softly.
DiPascali said he continued challenging Madoff, asking what he was talking about and telling him the firm could meet the redemption demands of investors.
"That's when he just said: 'The whole goddamn thing is a fraud. I don't have any money. Don't you understand what I'm talking about to you? Don't you get it?'" DiPascali recalled, saying his own knees were buckling at the time.
He said he spent several hours listening to a delirious, incoherent and rambling Madoff recount a detailed plan to reveal the true nature of a private investment business that had blown nearly $20 billion entrusted to him by thousands of investors, including charities, Hollywood actors and producers and the owners of the New York Mets.
DiPascali said Madoff asked repeatedly if DiPascali's wife had money and would be OK and said his own wife, Ruth Madoff, had money from her family that was untainted by the business. Madoff predicted that his brother Peter Madoff, a lawyer, "is probably going to get disbarred, but, hey, I'm not going to worry about that."