David Friehling, the CPA who acted as Bernie Madoff's accountant for 17 years, has waived his right to a grand jury, signaling that he is likely to plead guilty.
Both the Associated Press and New York Daily News are reporting that the plea deal is likely to happen. With Friehling waiving his right to have a grand jury hear the charges against him, prosecutors can file a criminal information against him and he can then plead guilty, asking for leniency if he accepts responsibility.
Friehling used to be a partner with his father-in-law, the late Jerome Horowitz, in a New City, N.Y., firm, Friehling & Horowitz. His father-in-law's involvement with Madoff dates back decades. After his father-in-law retired to Florida, Friehling continued to be Madoff's accountant, but there is little evidence that he did much auditing of the convicted Ponzi schemer's books.
Now he faces up to 105 years in prison, a little bit better than Madoff's 150-year sentence, but still not terribly encouraging for the 49-year-old Friehling. With a plea deal, he hopes to be able to shave some time off that sentence and maybe get out of prison before he's eligible for Social Security. If he can help prosecutors and the Madoff trustee track down more of the missing loot, he might just manage to cut a deal.