Daniel Bonventre, who joined forces with Madoff back in 1968, was accused of cooking the books to hide the multi-billion dollar fraud.
The former director of operations for Madoff Investment Securities , Bonventre, 63, of Queens, faces charges of conspiracy, falsifying financial records, securities fraud and filing fake tax returns and bogus SEC reports.
Freed on $5 million bond when arrested last month, Bonventre pleaded not guilty Thursday in Manhattan Federal Court on charges that could bring a maximum of 77 years in prison. He's due back in court April 12.
Others charged so far in the $65 billion scheme include the now imprisoned-for-life Madoff, his lieutenant Frank DiPascali, who is cooperating with prosecutors, accountant David Friehling and two computer programmers, Jerome O'Hara and George Perez.
"The charge is a prosecutorial Hail Mary,” has said Bonventre's attorney Andrew Frisch, maintaining his client's innocence.
Madoff, 71, is serving a 150-year prison sentence after admitting that he operated his scheme for at least two decades, cheating thousands of individuals, charities, celebrities and institutional investors out of billions.