Authorities have charged Friehling not with knowing about the scheme, but with failing to conduct audits and other tests to see if Madoff's numbers were real. If convicted, the could land him behind bars for 105 years.
How could he do such an audit? Friehling ran Friehling & Horowitz, a three-person tax-preparation firm, in a shopping center in New City, New York; one of the three was his father-in-law, Jerome Horowitz, who had previously done accounting work for Madoff. Horowitz, who had moved to Florida, died last week of cancer at the age of 80.
And how did Friehling spend his time? Compare photos of him taken at a series of event for Rockland County CPAs to his colleagues in the industry. Friehling is the only one who's not doughy and pasty — as one would expect an accountant to be if he'd spend time indoors going through mountains of Madoff-generated paperwork. One look at the guy and any investor would have known something was wrong with this picture — and yet, as Slate reported December, only one hedge-fund customer of Madoff seemed to take issue with his choice of auditor.