Courts & Crime

Former Miami DEA head arraigned in Stanford Ponzi scheme

MIAMI — Tom Raffanello, the former chief of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's Miami office, appeared in handcuffs Friday morning in federal court.

Raffanello, who led the agency's cases against infamous Panama strongman Manuel Noriega and Medellin cartel kingpin Fabio Ochoa, was indicted by a federal grand jury a day earlier for ordering the shredding of records belonging to disgraced banker Allen Stanford.

A federal magistrate allowed him to bond out after he posts a $100,000 personal surety bond. Raffanello must also surrender his passport and appear for his arraignment at 9:30 a.m. Sept. 18.

Raffanello, who appeared with attorney Jeff Crockett, answered basic questions from the magistrate in a quick hearing.

Raffanello, who left the DEA five years ago to become Stanford's local security chief, was charged with ordering workers to destroy thousands of documents just days after government agents shut down the banking empire in a massive fraud case.

Prosecutors say the records -- including secret background reports on employees and potential investors -- were hauled away from the company's security bunker in Fort Lauderdale after a federal judge ordered that no company paperwork be destroyed. The 61-year-old former DEA chief said he was prepared to turn himself over to federal agents Friday on charges of conspiracy, obstruction and destruction of records in a federal investigation.