Bernard Madoff's former operations chief says he always trusted the Ponzi schemer before Madoff admitted his involvement in a massive crime.

Daniel Bonventre (bahn-VEHN'-tur) testified Tuesday in Manhattan federal court that Madoff seemed to have the respect of the entire world for more than 40 years.

Bonventre has pleaded not guilty to fraud charges. Authorities say he cooked the books to throw off regulators.

He's on trial with four other former Madoff employees.

The defense says Bonventre worked for the legitimate side of Madoff's business and did not know about Madoff's criminal activities.

Madoff is serving a 150-year prison sentence. He squandered nearly $20 billion from thousands of investors over several decades.