I read Eli Mason's commentary, "An accounting tragedy" (May 4-17, 2009, page 6), and interpreted the opinion as sympathetic to the "tiny" accounting firm that was one of victims of the Bernie Madoff fraud.

Harm inflicted on their families and the personal failure of an individual is unfortunate, but as I understand the circumstances of Friehling & Horowitz CPAs, the tragedy is what they have done to the accounting profession. It was likely that Jeremy Horowitz and Bernie Madoff started legitimately many years ago, but eventually each chose the path of self-interest over professional duty. The son-in-law, Mr. Friehling, joined the firm at some point and the monthly fee to "don't ask, don't tell" proved too lucrative to remain honest and follow even the most minimum audit standards. It appears Mr. Friehling perpetrated this audit failure for years - perhaps more than a decade - while taking steps to deter detection, such as lying to the American Institute of CPAs that the firm did not perform audits.

I submit that Madoff chose the firm because Friehling & Horowitz's warped psyche was compatible with his own, and their willingness to accept monthly bribes not to perform an audit. They are not victims and do not deserve sympathy any more than Mr. Madoff, as they were the CPAs who easily could have prevented the tragedy suffered directly and indirectly by thousands of others.

Arthur F. Bell Jr.

Managing member

Arthur F. Bell Jr. & Associates LLC

Hunt Valley, Md.

(c) 2009 Accounting Today and SourceMedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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