By Frank James
A federal judge dismissed for lack of strong evidence a case against two ex employees of the defunct Stanford Financial Group who had been charged by prosecutors with shredding documents as part of a coverup of an alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
As the Associated Press reports:
After a nearly two-week trial and two days of jury deliberations, U.S. District Judge Richard W. Goldberg issued not guilty verdicts for Thomas Raffanello, Stanford Financial Group's ex-security chief and also a former top U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent, and technology officer Bruce Perraud.
On the key issue of whether the men intended to commit a crime, Goldberg said, "the evidence is substantially lacking."
Raffanello and Perraud faced up to 50 years each behind bars if convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and two related counts stemming from the document destruction on Feb. 25, 2009, just as Stanford's global banking empire was imploding and federal agents were seizing its assets.
A federal judge in Texas a week earlier had ordered all Stanford records preserved for a court-appointed receiver, and testimony showed that Perraud initially halted the shredding plan. But Raffanello directed it to go forward because all the documents were duplicated on company computers, which defense attorneys said were made available to the SEC and other investigators.
"No one tried to hide anything from anyone," said Perraud attorney Ed Shohat in closing arguments. $7 billion Ponzi scheme.
Meanwhile, Allen Stanford, their old boss, wasn't so lucky. He still awaits federal trial in Houston for the alleged scam.