Bernard Madoff Begins Work as Investment Advisor

Michael Bienes, an accountant who joined Alpern & Avellino in 1968, remembers Madoff "took a few straight accounts from Saul's people in the beginning.

And then he said to his father-in-law: 'No. I cannot handle small accounts like this. This is a pain in the neck and a pain in the butt.'"

Bienes says that to make it easier Alpern suggested Madoff pool the small investors together; Alpern himself would then deal with the record-keeping details. "[Alpern] gave Frank [Avellino] a piece," Bienes explains. "And I got a piece, when I became partner."

But when I went downtown for the first time to deliver some papers to Bernie, ... he walked in, Bernie, and it was like you were subsumed by him. He had an aura about him. Not charisma, an aura about him -- a confidence the way he was set up, the way he looked, the way he spoke. The self-confidence -- he just evoked confidence in you, that he knew that he was in control, and if he was around, everything was fine. And then when he moved to his new office building, I used to go down there, One Wall Street. He had a whole floor. Wow. Wow. Wow.”

— Michael Bienes