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Stanford gets 110 years in prison


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Stanford gets 110 years in prison

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R. Allen Stanford

By Ronnie Crocker
R. Allen Stanford’s speech Thursday to a judge and a courtroom full of aggrieved investors — a lengthy rationale for the collapse of his financial empire — apparently fell on deaf ears, as the disgraced businessman was sentenced to 110 years in federal prison.
Stanford, 62, took a sip of water and drew a deep breath after learning that, absent a successful appeal, he’ll never leave prison.
The highlight of Thursday’s two-hour hearing before U.S. District Judge David Hittner came when Stanford, graying and paunchy in dark green prison togs, rose with a fistful of papers to speak on his own behalf.
“I worked tirelessly, and honestly, to build a world-class, global financial-services company,” he said, then repeatedly laid the blame for its collapse at the feet of the U.S. government.
Receivers, he said, moved too quickly in February 2009 to close down his businesses and unload his assets in a “fire sale.” If left to continue to operate, he said, the business would have recovered from the recession and he would have been able to repay holders of billions of dollars worth of certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
As he has done since the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission moved against him, Stanford denied wrongdoing in the wide-ranging international fraud that a jury in March found was committed mostly through the CDs.
The government has estimated the size of the fraud at $5.9 billion.
“I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business,” said Stanford, a Mexia native.
Twice, Stanford mentioned that he felt bad for the investors who lost money, his employees who lost their jobs and his own family members dragged into the affair. But it was not until the courtroom was clearing that he offered a direct apology.
“He had tears in his eyes and said, ‘I’m so sorry,’” victim Angela Shaw, one of two defrauded investors who also addressed Hittner’s court, recounted afterward. “But then he said, ‘This is wrong and you’ll have to sue the United States government. They did this.’”
The moment fell short of genuine contrition, Shaw said, and wound up confirming her view of Stanford’s “sociopathic behavior.”
At the conclusion of Stanford’s speech, federal prosecutor William Stellmach blasted it as “obscene.” He urged Hittner to assess the 230-year maximum sentence.
Defense attorney Ali Fazel had asked Hittner for no more than a 10-year term. When the judge announced the aggregate total for the 13 crimes Stanford was convicted on — conspiracy, wire and mail fraud, obstruction and money laundering — the sentence ran to 11 times that.
Hittner noted that it is unlikely the prisoner ever will be released.
The judge also approved a “money judgment” that holds Stanford personally liable for $5.9 billion.
Jaime Escalona, a defrauded investor who lives in Caracas, Venezuela, and Austin and spoke for Latin American investors, had also asked for the maximum. From his dais in the courtroom, he called Stanford “a dirty, rotten scoundrel.”
Afterward, he said he was glad, at least, that Stanford will likely never be free.
“We were hoping for the maximum,” he said, “to make an example.”
(—)

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