Stanford’s Raffanello Pleads Not Guilty in Shredding

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Thomas Raffanello, Stanford Financial Group’s global security director, pleaded not guilty to shredding documents in violation of a court order to preserve them for a federal investigation.

Raffanello, 61, entered the plea today before U.S. Magistrate Robin Rosenbaum in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Raffanello is the second security official charged with shredding records sought by prosecutors and securities regulators who accuse Stanford of bilking investors out of more than $7 billion through a scheme involving fake certificates of deposit. Raffanello is a former head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s Miami office.

“The case is a slap in the face to his otherwise stellar career,” Richard Sharpstein, Raffanello’s lawyer, said in an interview after the arraignment. “It’s no secret he went voluntarily to the FBI without a lawyer to explain the circumstances of shredding documents.”

The shredding allegedly was carried out at Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s Fort Lauderdale office. The indictment accuses Raffanello and Bruce Perraud, 42, with conspiracy, destroying records and obstructing a probe by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. A federal court order in an SEC suit against Stanford said no employee or agent of the company could destroy any records.

Electronic versions of the data in the documents were given to an agent of Stanford’s court-appointed receiver, Sharpstein said today. The documents contained information on personnel and some of Stanford’s investors and didn’t include any financial records, he said.

‘Vague and Ambiguous’

“None are considered mildly relevant to the investigation,” said Sharpstein, who described the court order a “vague and ambiguous.”

Raffanello and Perraud are expected to go on trial in January, U.S. District Judge William Zloch said. He didn’t set a specific date.

The criminal charges say Raffanello and Perraud knew of the order on Feb. 17. About a week later, Raffanello called a shredding company and shortly after, Perraud oversaw four employees packing and hauling about 95 gallons of records to the shredding company’s shredder in a truck, according to the indictment. Perraud allegedly had employees bring records from cars in the Stanford parking lot to the shredding machine.

On about Feb. 26, an agent of Stanford’s receiver arrived at the Fort Lauderdale office and was kept “in the back office,” by Raffanello and prohibited from questioning Perraud about Stanford records and documents, the indictment says.

Stanford is in jail near Houston awaiting trial on charges he paid investors “improbable if not impossible,” returns on CDs issued by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. by taking money from new depositors.

The case is U.S. v. Raffanello, 09-60129-CF-ZLOCH, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Florida (Fort Lauderdale).


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