By Bernard Vaughan
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Five former employees of Bernard Madoff responded on Thursday to government assertions that all but one of them and Madoff were involved "in romantic and/or sexual relationships" with each other and that Madoff himself was ensnared in a "love triangle."
In short, they want more details, according to a court document filed on Thursday.
Madoff pleaded guilty in March 2009 to running a fraud of up to $65 billion at his investment firm and is serving a 150-year prison sentence. While Madoff said he acted alone, prosecutors have since charged 13 individuals in connection with the fraud. Five of them - two women and three men - are set to go on trial in federal court in New York on October 7.
The employees are former investment advisory employees Joann Crupi and Annette Bongiorno, former operations manager Daniel Bonventre, and former computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.
Lawyers for the employees either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday night.
Earlier this month, prosecutors who accuse the former employees of helping Madoff execute his Ponzi scheme asked to exclude from trial evidence that all but one of them and Madoff were at various times "in romantic and/or sexual relationships with one another," and that one of the defendants was in a "love triangle" with Madoff.
On August 13, the government identified for defense lawyers the employees they said were involved in each of the relationships, according to the court document filed by defense lawyers Thursday.
But the lawyers for the five defendants demanded more details.
"We still have no information regarding the timing or duration of the relationships or the source of the information, and these facts are critical to the defendants' decision whether or not to cross examine the government's witnesses concerning the allegations," the filing said.
The defense lawyers also said there was another relationship the government had not mentioned, but they did not provide details in the filing.
"While the government identified certain relationships," Thursday's filing stated, "there is still another relationship not embraced by the government's motion and about which it presumably wishes to introduce evidence at trial."
Lawyers for the former employees outlined how details of the relationships could prove relevant at trial.
If a government witness had a relationship with someone at Madoff's firm, for example, it could influence their testimony regarding one or more of the defendants, the lawyers said.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney's Office declined to comment.
The case is USA v. O'Hara et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, No. 10-0228.
(Reporting by Bernard Vaughan; Editing by Ken Wills)