2021 | Courts

Former Federal Reserve employee admits stealing restricted documents

Bethesda man was given poor work performance review; opted to retire

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A Bethesda man who worked for the Federal Reserve Board pleaded guilty on Thursday to printing more than 50 restricted government documents and taking them home with him, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Venkatesh Rao, 67, was working at the Federal Reserve in 2019 when he was told his work performance was “unsatisfactory,” according to his guilty plea. He left the job voluntarily.

Rao entered the Federal Reserve Board building in Washington, D.C., about 16 times during five weekend days in November 2019 and printed more than 50 “restricted” government documents, despite restrictions on emailing and electronic copying of restricted materials, according to court documents.

D.C. attorney George Allen Dale, who represents Rao, told Bethesda Beat Friday afternoon that Rao had authored or co-authored the documents he took home.

“He was given a poor job performance [review], and he was offered that he could retire or could fight that, and stay on while he was fighting, and he opted to retire,” Dale said. “I’m not 100% certain, but I believe that he set a date [for leaving] and before that date arrived, copied the documents.”

Dale said Rao knew the rules prohibiting employees from taking restricted documents home.

Rao’s guilty plea states that he “knowingly removed restricted documents containing proprietary documents used by the Federal Reserve Board to conduct bank stress tests.”

Rao stored the documents at his home in Bethesda, the plea agreement states. It states that Rao stipulated that “the documents and code were board property, and that he improperly took them.”

Representatives from the Federal Reserve could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.

Rao is scheduled to be sentenced on May 28 and could face up to one year in prison, according to a press release.

Dan Schere can be reached at daniel.schere@bethesdamagazine.com