By
updated 12/21/2010 2:04:50 PM ET 2010-12-21T19:04:50

Bernard Madoff's former secretary was ordered Tuesday to surrender in Florida by a judge who revoked her $5 million bail, saying her access to large amounts of money created "a very real potential" she could flee.

U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain rejected the arguments by lawyers for 62-year-old Annette Bongiorno that her husband should be allowed to post money from his bank accounts to support a bail package.

"There is a serious risk the defendant will not appear," Swain said. 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 was arrested last month on conspiracy, securities fraud and falsifying records charges. 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.

Bongiorno's lawyer, Maurice Sercarz, asked Swain to delay the effect of her ruling to give him time to immediately appeal but she declined. Sercarz said the detention order was being appealed.

"I'm disappointed," Sercarz said outside court. He said he did not know if his client would be held at a West Palm Beach, Fla., jail or if she would be put on a plane and eventually brought to New York.

"We knew this day was coming," he said.

He said Bongiorno would not flee.

For a long time, Bongiorno has known she might face prosecution and was "not just a subject but a target" of the investigation into Madoff's collapsed financial empire, Sercarz said.

"This process has been excruciating for her," he said.

Bongiorno was recently named in a new indictment along with another back office worker, Joann Crupi, former operations chief Daniel Bonventre and computer programmers Jerome O'Hara and George Perez. The four have remained free on bail.

The indictment alleges that Bongiorno and Crupi, 49, "'executed' trades in the accounts of (wealthy clients) only on paper ... and that achieved annual rates of return that had been predetermined by Madoff."

Prosecutors say Bongiorno deposited about $920,000 in her own Madoff account from 1975 to 2008 and withdrew more than $14 million in investor funds over the same period to buy expensive homes and pay for other luxuries.

Madoff, 72, pleaded guilty to fraud charges last year and is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

An investigation continues to determine who knew about Madoff's fraud or assisted it during its more than two-decade existence. Authorities have said they continue to investigate Madoff's brother Peter and son Andrew, who were executive in the Madoff firm's market-making and proprietary-trading business. Neither has been charged.

Madoff's eldest son, Mark, who had also worked at Madoff's firm and been a subject for investigators, committed suicide 10 days ago on the two-year anniversary of his father's arrest.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: Madoff ‘distraught’ at son’s death

  1. Closed captioning of: Madoff ‘distraught’ at son’s death

    >> we're learning more about how bernie madoff reacted behind bars after learning of his son's suicide. jeff rossen has details on all this.

    >> reporter: bernie madoff's secretary did pretty well over the years, prosecutors say too well, making off with $14 million. they claim she's hiding the money and if she doesn't tell them where it is. she could go to jail today. with bernie madoff behind bars , prosecutors have honed in on his secretary, including money she pocketed. she also owns this mansion on long island, valued at $2 million. until recently, according to investigators this secretary drove a bentley and two mercedes.

    >> she knows where the bones are buried, she could become a major prosecution witness in this case.

    >> reporter: her lawyer tells nbc news they're willing to disclose her accounts as long as prosecutors don't freeze them. but still in court later today , the judge could order her to jail.

    >> prosecutors know that when somebody's locked up, they're more willing to cooperate than when they're out and about driving around in bentleys in south florida .

    >> reporter: prosecutors have also considered criminal charges against bernie madoff's sons, andrew and mark. it was just last week that mark committed suicide inside his luxury manhattan apartment. now new details on how bernie madoff took the news behind bars . the "new york post" spoke with a former inmate in the same prison who says a voice over the intercom crack kled, inmate madoff report to the chapel, where he was told. madoff was crying and he was very distraught. over the next few days, bernie madoff didn't come out of his cell not even to eat.

    >> he feels totally isolated from the family, especially the fact that his wife ruth has not visited him. and once their son killed himself he blamed bernie for his death.

    >> reporter: bernie 's only remaining son remains the target of lawsuits and investigation. but he tells "the wall street journal " he's focused on moving on.

    >> andrew has tried to keep busy, he's done things like meet with his piano teacher, a longtime friend of his, just trying to keep some normalcy just like he did after his father's arrest.

    >> reporter: andrew madoff still lives in an apartment here in new york city . but he can't spend more than $500 at a time without documenting it. sources say federal prosecutors still don't have enough evidence to charge him with anything.

Explainer: The top 10 business stories of 2010

  • Image: BP CEO Tony Hayward surveys gulf spill repair work
    AP

    In 2010, the economy rebounded fitfully from the Great Recession — starting strong, wobbling at midyear but showing enough vigor by year's end to quell fears of a second recession. Yet Americans hardly felt relief under the weight of high unemployment, which began the year at 9.7 percent and is now 9.8 percent.

    An oil spill devastated the economy and environment along the Gulf Coast and hammered energy giant BP's stock price and reputation.

    China muscled past Japan to become the world's No. 2 economy, a reminder that the global economic order is shifting and America's supremacy is diminishing.

    It was a year of job shortages and swollen budget deficits that disheartened Americans and caused deep losses for incumbent Democrats on Election Day. The Federal Reserve tried with scant success to jolt the economy with record-low interest rates.

    The struggling economy was voted the top business story of the year by U.S. newspaper editors surveyed by The Associated Press. The oil spill in the Gulf came in second, followed by China's economic rise.

  • 1. Economy struggles

    Image: Unemployment brochures are seen on display at the employment training facility, JobTrain, in Menlo Park, Calif.,
    AP

    Climbing out of the deepest recession since the 1930s, the economy grows at a healthy rate in the January-March quarter. Still, the gain comes mainly from companies refilling stockpiles they had let shrink during the recession. The economy can't sustain the pace. The lingering effects of the recession slow growth.

    The benefits of an $814 billion government stimulus program fade. Consumers cut spending in favor of building savings and slashing debt. Businesses hesitate to hire. Cities and states lay off workers. Growth slows through spring and summer.

    Unemployment stays chronically high. In May, the number of people unemployed for at least six months hits 6.8 million — a record 46 percent of all the unemployed.

    Pointing to the deficits, Congress resists backing more spending to stimulate the economy. The Federal Reserve seeks to fill the void by announcing it will buy $600 billion in Treasury bonds to try to further lower interest rates, lift stocks and coax consumers to spend.

    As the year closes, the economy makes broad gains. Factories produce more. Consumers — the backbone of the economy — return to the malls. Congress passes $858 billion in tax cuts and aid to the long-term unemployed. Yet more than 15 million Americans are still unemployed. Economists say a full economic recovery remains years away.

  • 2. Gulf oil spill

    Image: Plaquemines Parish coastal zone director P.J. Hahn lifts his boot out of thick beached oil at Queen Bess Island.
    AP

    An explosion at a rig used by BP kills 11 workers and sends crude oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico. The spill devastates the fishing and tourism industries along the Gulf Coast and causes environmental damage that may last for decades. BP sets up a $20 billion fund to compensate fishermen, restaurateurs and others whose livelihoods were damaged.

    The oil giant still faces civil charges and a criminal investigation by the Justice Department and lawsuits from hundreds of individuals and businesses. BP's stock market value shrinks by more than $100 billion after the April 20 disaster before bouncing about halfway back.

  • 3. China's rise

    Image: Workers install scaffolding at a construction site as a Chinese national flag flies near by in central Beijing.
    Reuters

    China passes Japan as the world's second-biggest economy. The World Bank says it could surpass the United States by 2020. China's gross domestic product is spread out over 1.3 billion people — amounting to about $3,600 per person. That compares with GDP in the U.S. of about $42,000 per person. In Japan, it's about $38,000 per person. China's thirst for raw materials and other products helps the rest of the world recover from the recession. Still, the U.S. and Europe complain that China gives its exporters an unfair competitive edge by keeping its currency artificially low.

  • 4. Real estate crisis

    Image: Home for sale
    AP

    Housing remains depressed despite super-low mortgage rates. The average rate on a 30-year fixed mortgage dips to 4.17 percent in November, the lowest in decades. But home sales and prices sink further. Nearly one in four homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, making it all but impossible for them to sell their home and buy another.

    An estimated 1 million households lose their homes to foreclosure, even though the pace slows after evidence that lenders mishandled foreclosure documents. Some did so by hiring "robo-signers" to sign paperwork without checking their accuracy.

  • 5. Toyota recall

    Image: Toyota Master Service Technician Mike Blomberg inspects a gas pedal assembly.
    AP

    Toyota's reputation for making high-quality cars is tarnished after the Japanese automaker recalls 10 million vehicles for sudden acceleration and other problems. Toyota faces hundreds of lawsuits alleging that some models can speed up suddenly, causing crashes, injuries and deaths. Toyota blames driver error, faulty floor mats and sticky accelerator pedals for the unintended acceleration. The uproar damages its business. Toyota's U.S. sales rise just 0.2 percent through November in a year when the industry's overall sales climb more than 11 percent.

  • 6. GM's comeback

    Image: GM headquarters
    AP

    General Motors stock begins trading again. It signals the rebirth of a corporate icon that fell into bankruptcy and required a $50 billion bailout from taxpayers. GM uses some proceeds from its November initial public offering to repay a portion of its bailout. (Washington still holds about a third of GM's stock.) GM's recovery helps rejuvenate the industry. Sales of cars and light trucks rise 11 percent through November compared with the same period in 2009. Shoppers who had put off replacing their old cars return to showrooms.

  • 7. Financial overhaul

    Image: Barack Obama, Christina Romer, Timothy Geithner, Barney Frank, Paul Volcker
    AP

    Congress passes the biggest rewrite of financial rules since the 1930s. The law targets the risky banking practices and lax oversight that led to the 2008 financial crisis. The law creates an agency to protect consumers from predatory loans and other abuses, empowers regulators to shut down big firms that threaten the entire system and shines more light into markets that have eluded oversight. Republican critics say the law goes too far, imposing burdensome rules that will restrict lending to consumers and small businesses.

  • 8. European bailouts

    Image: Athenians walks behind a board showing exchange rates at a foreign currency exchange shop in Athens on Wednesday.
    AP

    Greece and Ireland require emergency bailouts, raising fears that debt problems will spread and destabilize global markets. European governments and the International Monetary Fund agree to a $145 billion rescue of Greece in May and a $90 billion bailout of Ireland in November. The bailouts require both countries to slash spending, triggering protests by workers. Investors fear that debt troubles will spread to Spain, Portugal and other countries, weaken the European Union and threaten the future of the euro as its common currency.

  • 9. 500 million Facebook users

    Image: Mark Zuckerberg
    AP

    Facebook tops the 500-million-user mark. It expands its dominance of social media and further transforms how the world communicates. If it were a country, Facebook would be the world's third-largest. Facebook tightens its privacy settings after criticism that personal information is being disseminated without users' knowledge or permission. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" and is the subject of a high-profile movie about Facebook's creation.

  • 10. iPad mania

    Image: Customer uses an Apple iPad
    AP file

    Apple Inc. unveils the iPad, bringing "tablet" computing into the mainstream and eroding laptop sales. Apple is expected to sell more than 13 million iPads this year. The iPads sell about twice as fast as iPhones did after their 2007 introduction. The price of Apple stock rockets more than 50 percent in 2010. Competitors scramble to try to catch up. They include the Dell Streak, BlackBerry PlayBook, the Samsung Galaxy Tag and HP Slate.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

Data: Latest rates in the US

Home equity rates View rates in your area
Home equity type Today +/- Chart
$30K HELOC FICO 4.71%
$30K home equity loan FICO 5.26%
$75K home equity loan FICO 4.70%
Credit card rates View more rates
Card type Today +/- Last Week
Low Interest Cards 13.42%
13.42%
Cash Back Cards 17.94%
17.94%
Rewards Cards 17.14%
17.14%
Source: Bankrate.com