Criminal Justice

Lawyer is accused of working for Stanford, 2 law firms while collecting disability payments

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A lawyer who was formerly a financial analyst to the Federal Reserve System’s board of governors is accused of collecting disability benefits while working for two law firms, three companies and a university.

Prosecutors charged Lawrence Rufrano, 66, with wire fraud for allegedly maintaining that he was unable to work while receiving disability benefits from the Federal Reserve System and the Social Security Administration, according to an Oct. 28 press release. Rufrano lives in Brisbane, California, and is licensed to practice law in New York.

Rufrano has expertise in digital currency and mortgage-backed securities, according to online descriptions.

Rufrano claimed that he became disabled in July 2013 after being diagnosed with agoraphobia with panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, according to an Oct. 21 affidavit filed in support of the Oct. 21 criminal complaint. He claimed that his mental condition was deteriorating while on disability to the point where he was forgetting names and was unable to leave his house or check his mail for weeks on end, the affidavit said.

Rufrano’s doctor said his mental condition had slowly deteriorated, and he was “functioning like a patient who has early Alzheimer’s disorder.”

But Rufrano was working as the executive director of the Stanford School of Engineering’s Advanced Financial Technologies laboratory, according to the Mercury News and CoinDesk. While working for one law firm as a financial technology adviser, he was paid $18,750 per month for his services, prosecutors say. A second law firm allegedly paid him $175,000 per year to work as a senior business development adviser.

In billing records submitted to the first law firm, Rufrano described attending meetings to identify potential clients, establishing new financial technology client relationships, giving speeches at several major conferences, conducting meetings with major European banks, and business travel.

An online program for a conference sponsored by the Singapore Management University listed Rufrano as part of a keynote panel. The bio described him as one of the early pioneers in the securitization of mortgages and consumer assets. While at the Federal Reserve System, he had advised its board of governors on the dynamics of the mortgage-backed securities market, the structured credit derivatives market, and the collateralized debt obligations market, according to the bio.

Rufrano’s lawyer, Jessica Munk, issued a statement on the case.

“We are investigating the facts and will vigorously defend our client,” Munk said.

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