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Allen Stanford Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison

6/14/2012 @ 1:12PM |44 075 views

Allen Stanford Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison

English: Mug shot of Allen Stanford.
R. Allen Stanford. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Dressed in green prison fatigues, R. Allen Stanford entered a federal courthouse inHouston today to hear U.S. District Judge David Hitner pronounce his prison sentence. The decision: 110 years.
Prosecutors had asked that the one-time billionaire financier get230 years in prison. (note: Bernard Madoff is serving 150 years). The prosecutor told Judge Hitner, “230 years will not get anyone their money back but on sleepless nights they will know that he got the maximum.”  I think 110 years will give them just as much comfort.
During the proceeding, Stanford’s attorney, Ali Fazel, objected to the use of the term “Ponzi scheme,” but Hittner said the evidence at trial justified it.  It’s not like Stanford could be any more insulted.  The prosecutors also compared him to Bernie Madoff.  That too caused Fazel to speak up on behalf of Stanford by saying of Madoff, “he didn’t invest time in anything.”  Not sure what he was going for with that comment but I took it that Stanford worked harder at his fraud than did Madoff.
Speaking on his own behalf, Stanford recounted his last three years, including his beating in September 2009.  The best that he could say as a compliment for those who prosecuted him was, “I wouldn’t wish this on them.”  While he acknowledged that he felt sorry for depositors, employees and his own family for the failure of Stanford Financial, he managed to slip in, “I’m not a thief,” and, “I never defrauded anyone.”  Victims in the courtroom, all dressed in black, begged to differ.  
One of the victims, Jaime Escalona, who represented Latin American victims, addressed the court. Looking at Stanford he said, “You sir are a dirty, rotten, scoundrel.”  
The other victim spokesman, Angela Shaw of the Stanford Victims Coalition, said of Stanford, “He took our lives as we knew them.”
The prison sentence represents a long fall for the once-knighted Antiguan, who has been in prison since his arrest in June 2009.  Declared indigent by the court, all of Stanford’s assets were frozen and he was represented by a public defender.  In March, Stanford was found guilty of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.  However, his road to the courthouse was not without controversy.  First, there was that strange interview on CNBC in which Stanford proclaimed his innocence.  Then Stanford sued Lloyd’s of London, the underwriter of Stanford Financial Group’s Directors and Officers insurance, to pay for his legal fees.  In the end, Lloyd’s won and Stanford got the legal help of public defenders Ali Fazel and Robert Scardino.
Stanford learned that prison can be a difficult place to live.  Long before being tried in court, Stanford wasseverely beaten by another inmate.  He was hospitalized and later transferred to a federal prison medical facility in Butner, NC, as result of an addiction to anti-depressants, which he developed after the beating.  The trauma, his lawyers claimed, left their client unable to remember anything.  After a year’s delay in heading to trial, government psychologists determined he was faking it and set a court date.
In January, just 12 days before Stanford’s trial was to begin, Fazel and Scardino wanted out of the case on the grounds that budget restrictions were hurting their ability to defend him. Prior to that, a number of supporting groups and expert witnesses for the defense said that they too wanted to quit because they were not being paid by the government.  Eventually, some money was released and Stanford was off to trial.
With all of this drama, there still has been no distribution of the funds that have been seized by the government to victims who had invested their savings with Stanford in the hopes of incredible returns on supposedly safe certificates of deposit.  The trial and the prison sentence will bring some closure, but the restitution to investors will come up a little short.  With regard to the losses for U.S. taxpayers? We will be paying for Stanford’s prison stay and his future legal fees.  Stanford is planning to appeal and the court will be giving him a new public defender.
Stanford’s most memorable statement was, “If I live the rest of my life in prison …. I will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business.”  He can think about that one for a while.
My thanks to Twitterers Ronnie Crocker and CNBC’s Scott Cohn, who gave us all updates during the sentencing.

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