Former Miami DEA Chief Charged with Shredding Ponzi Schemer Allen Stanford's Docs

A quick lesson for all the school kids feverishly getting a Riptide fix before class this morning: If you're working for a blatant Ponzi scheme (and don't worry, someday you will) and the SEC phones and tells you not to lose any documents, don't tell your employees to fire up the shredder. It's just a bad idea.

Thomas Raffanello learned that the hard way -- and he really should have known better.

Raffanello, a 61-year-old Coral Gables resident, spent 35 years working for the DEA and was in charge of Miami's busy office for years. He retired in 2004 and went to work for "Sir" Allen Stanford -- the man now known as "mini-Madoff" and the architect of an $8 billion Ponzi scheme. (Here's our profile on Sir Allen.)

When Stanford's empire imploded in February, a federal receiver sent all employees an email demanding that they preserve notes, emails, and other records.

Raffanello, Stanford's global director of security, instead called a crony named Bruce Perrod and told him to shred away, according to the feds.

Late on Thursday, federal agents arrested Raffanello and charged him with three counts of conspiring to obstruct an SEC investigation. Perraud, a 42-year-old from Weston, faces two of the same charges.

So what did we learn, kids? When you go to work for a Ponzi scheme, at least listen to the SEC once it finally gets its act together enough to shut you down.

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink