David G. Friehling

David G. Friehling

David G. Friehling is an American accountant who was arrested and charged in March 2009 for his role in the Madoff investment scandal.[1] He later plead guilty to these charges.


Early life

Friehling was born in Sullivan County, north of New York City, and attended high school in Liberty, New York. His affluent family owned the Stevensville Hotel, a prominent Borscht Belt resort in Swan Lake, New York.[2] He is a 1981 graduate of Cornell University, and a past-president of the Rockland chapter of the NYS Society of CPAs (NYSSCPA).

Friehling & Horowitz as Madoff's auditors

For many years, Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC books were audited by Friehling & Horowitz, a little-known accounting firm in New City, New York; a small town north of New York City. The firm consisted of two principals—Friehling and Jerome Horowitz—and a secretary.

Horowitz met Madoff in 1963, when the Madoff organization was a penny stock trader. He audited Madoff's books before retiring to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in 1991 and handing the account to his son-in-law, Friehling. Horowitz died on March 12, 2009 after a long battle with cancer; it is not known whether he was a target of the Madoff investigation.[3][4]

Well before the Madoff scandal broke, several observers doubted that a tiny firm with only one active accountant could competently service a firm that had grown into a multi-billion-dollar operation. In 2007, Askia LLC, a hedge fund consultant, warned its clients to stay away from Madoff for that very reason; its CEO, Jim Vos, likened this situation to General Motors being audited by a three-person firm.[5] Others were suspicious that Madoff refused requests for due dilligence because his accountant—supposedly his brother-in-law—was the only one allowed to see the books.[6]

Soon after the Madoff scandal broke, it emerged that Friehling & Horowitz had informed the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants in writing since 1993 that it didn't conduct audits.[7] An investigation into Friehling by Rockland County district attorney Thomas Zugibe was stopped in deferral to the investigation by the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York.[8]

Friehling was not registered with the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, which was created under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to help detect fraud. Nor was the firm "peer reviewed," in which auditors check one another for quality control. According to the AICPA, Friehling was enrolled in their peer-review program, but was not required to participate because he supposedly didn't conduct audits.[7][9] It later emerged that Madoff's banker, JPMorgan Chase, had known that Friehling wasn't registered with the PCAOB or subject to peer review as early as 2006.[10]

Arrest and plea

Friehling was charged on March 18, 2009, with securities fraud, aiding and abetting investment adviser fraud, and four counts of filing false audit reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission.[11]

On July 10, 2009, Friehling waived indictment and pleaded not guilty to criminal charges. He agreed to proceed without having the evidence in the criminal case against him reviewed by a grand jury at a hearing before U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein in Manhattan.

On November 3, 2009 he pled guilty to the charges against him. He admitted to simply rubber-stamping Madoff's filings with the SEC. He also revealed that he continued to audit Madoff even though he had invested a substantial amount of money with him. Accountants aren't allowed to audit broker-dealers with whom they're investing. He agreed to forfeit $3.18 million in accounting fees and withdrawals from his account with Madoff. Friehling faces a maximum sentence of 108 years in prison, but unlike Madoff has agreed to cooperate with the government.[3] His career as an accountant is likely over in any event; the SEC is not allowed to accept audits from convicted felons.

Friehling's sentencing has been set for September 3, 2010. It was postponed from February 2010 at the request of the prosecution, citing Friehling's "continuing cooperation with the Government".[12] That was postponed until September 2010….that was then postponed until March 15, 2011….now that has been postponed until September 16, 2011. [13]

SEC charges

The SEC brought civil charges against Friehling and his firm.[14] Madoff's firm paid Friehling between $12,000 and $14,500 a month for his services between 2004 and 2007.[15]

See also


  1. ^ Chung, Joanna (March 22, 2009). "Madoff investigation is far form over". Financial Times. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/fc66f50a-1719-11de-9a72-0000779fd2ac.html. Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  2. ^ http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090322/NEWS/903220321
  3. ^ a b Hamblett, Mark. Madoff's Accountant Acknowledges Guilt, Casts Himself as Victim. New York Law Journal, 2009-11-04.
  4. ^ Arrested Madoff accountant had Palm Beach Gardens partner. Palm Beach Post, 2009-03-04.
  5. ^ Fitzgerald, Jim. Madoff's financial empire audited by tiny firm: one guy. Associated Press via Seattle Times, 2008-12-18.
  6. ^ Markopolos, Harry (March 2010). No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-470-55373-2. http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470553731.html. 
  7. ^ a b Abkowitz, Alyssa (December 17, 2008). Madoff's auditor... doesn't audit?. CNN. http://money.cnn.com/2008/12/17/news/companies/madoff.auditor.fortune/index.htm. Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  8. ^ Voreacos, David (December 16, 2008). "New York Prosecutor Drops Madoff Auditor Probe; Defers to U.S.". Bloomberg News. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=aAeIQnSSpJRQ&refer=home. Retrieved December 24, 2008. 
  9. ^ Dugan, Ianthe Jeanne; Crawford, David (February 18, 2009). "Accounting Firms That Missed Fraud at Madoff May Be Liable". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123491638561904323.html. Retrieved March 22, 2009 
  10. ^ Madoff trustee suit against JPMorgan Chase
  11. ^ Bray, Chad (July 18, 2009). "Madoff Ex-Auditor Friehling Enters a Plea of Not Guilty". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124784585862258641.html. 
  12. ^ United States v. David Friehling – Court’s Order Adjourning Sentencing to Sept. 3, 2010, United States v. David G. Friehling, The United States Department of Justice, retrieved 2010-07-25
  13. ^ Pavlo, Walter. Forbes. http://blogs.forbes.com/walterpavlo/2011/03/21/madoff-accountant-now-auditing-to-save-his-a/. 
  14. ^ http://sec.gov/news/press/2009/2009-60.htm
  15. ^ Efrati, Amir (March 19, 2009). "Accountant Arrested for Sham Audits". The Wall Street Journal. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123738779664971505.html. 

External links

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