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Madoff accountant pleads guilty

David Friehling agrees to nine fraud charges and faces up to 114 years in prison.

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NEW YORK (CNN) -- The longtime accountant of convicted swindler Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty Tuesday to multiple fraud charges in connection to Madoff's notorious, decades-long Ponzi scheme.

David G. Friehling, 49, agreed to a nine-count guilty plea that included securities fraud, investment advisor fraud, making false filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission and tax law violations.

Standing in a 14th-floor federal courthouse in Manhattan, Friehling expressed remorse for those he harmed, including his family, who lost $500,000 in savings with Madoff.

"I am truly sorry for the suffering of all my victims," Friehling told the court.

However, he maintains that he "committed these crimes as an independent auditor" and was unaware that he was involved in Madoff's far-flung Ponzi scheme.

With much of the money from Madoff's scandal still unaccounted for, District Judge Alvin Hellerstein advised Friehling that as part of the guilty plea, he must provide "any tangible evidence" requested by the U.S. attorney, the FBI, or the Internal Revenue Service in relation to the ongoing investigation into Madoff's finances.

Federal prosecutors claim that Friehling's accounting firm, Friehling and Horowitz, acted as the accounting arm of Madoff's corrupt enterprise from the early 1990s until Dec. 11, 2008, when Madoff's crimes came to light. Friehling created the firm's "certified and purportedly audited financial statements, including balance sheets, statements of income, statements of cash flows, and reports of internal control," according to a complaint filed in March.

Friehling, who remains free on $2.5 million bond, will be sentenced on Feb. 26. While his plea could result in a lighter sentence, the judge made it clear leniency is by no means guaranteed. "I'll be looking at the extent of your cooperation when devising a just sentence for you," Hellerstein said.

Friehling could be sentenced to a maximum of 114 years in prison.

A graduate of Cornell University's prestigious School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Friehling became a certified accountant in 1987. He said he was introduced to Madoff in the late 1980s by his father-in-law, who originally worked as an accountant for Madoff's father-in-law dating back to 1963. To top of page

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