2 ex-Madoff employees avoid jail time


NEW YORK (JTA) — Two former employees of Bernard Madoff who helped him carry out his $17 billion Ponzi scheme have avoided prison sentences.

Eric Lipkin, a payroll clerk and assistant to Madoff’s chief financial officer, was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan to two years of probation and 200 hours of community service.

A day earlier, Enrica Cotellessa-Pitz, who worked as Madoff’s controller for over 30 years, was sentenced to the same probation term and 250 hours of community service.

Cotellessa-Pitz, 56, pleaded guilty to four counts of fraud in 2011 and cooperated with prosecutors. She was accused of aiding the Ponzi scheme without knowing about it and faced a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

“You have provided extraordinary assistance to the government,” Judge Laura Taylor Swain said. “I know that you will live in a way that will leave you a net contributor to this community.”

In 2011, Lipkin admitted to deceiving auditors by doctoring documents and falsifying financial records.

Both began working for Madoff as teenagers – Cotellessa-Pitz started at 19, Lipkin at 15. Lipkin is the son of Irwin Lipkin, 76, a longtime controller at Madoff’s firm whose trial has been delayed because of illness. After starting as a part-time worker for Madoff, the younger Lipkin rose to garner a $225,000 salary.

Cotellessa-Pitz was ordered to forfeit most of her assets, including her retirement savings. She now works for a dentist in Queens who was a victim of the Madoff fraud. Lipkin  works at a sporting goods store and earns $10.50 an hour, Bloomberg reported.

Madoff, who pleaded guilty in 2009 but did not help prosecutors, is serving a 150-year prison sentence.

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