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Stanford sentenced to 110 years - Justice Served Up

Fri, 2012-06-15 07:34 -- Walt Pavlo

English: Concertina razor wire at a prison (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Allen Stanford Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison - The saga of Stanford Financial took a huge step toward closure with the sentencing of one-time billionaire Allen Stanford.  Stanford, a Baylor University graduate, was convicted in March of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.  People lost their life savings and spokesmen for the thousands of people affected by the scheme were allowed to address the court.  The most memorable quote was from Jaime Escalona, a representative for Latin American victims, said to Stanford who sat just a few feet away, "You sir are a dirty, rotten, scoundrel."  Stanford Financial CFO James Davis, a college roommate of Stanford's, pled guilty and testified as a witness for the government.  He has not been sentenced yet, probably because he has more work to do for the government.  The trial of former Stanford employee, Laura Pendergest-Holt is scheduled to begin in September 2012.  That should be interesting since Davis has admitted that he had an extramarital affair with Mrs. Pendergest-Holt.


Stanford sentenced to 110 years for $US7 b Ponzi scheme
June 15, 2012

Financier and cricket mogul Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in jail for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, closing the book on the flamboyant ex-tycoon's stunning fall from grace.

"This is one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court," Judge David Hittner said in handing down the lengthy sentence in Houston, Texas. He was also ordered to forfeit $5.9 billion.

"From beginning to end, he’s treated his victims like road kill," Assistant US Attorney William Stellmach told the judge today before a courtroom packed with Stanford’s victims. "Allen Stanford doesn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy and he doesn’t deserve your honor’s mercy."

Guilty verdict

The verdict will bring some satisfaction -- but likely little financial relief -- to 30,000 investors from more than 100 countries who were bilked by bogus investments with Stanford International Bank. Investigators could not find 92 per cent of the $US8 billion the bank said it had in assets and cash reserves.

Stanford, 62, has spent the past three years in jail after being deemed a flight risk. He will likely never taste freedom again.

The fall from grace is now complete for the former cricket mogul, who in 2008 signed a deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board for a five-match T20 series between England and an all-star West Indian team which boasted a staggering prize pool of $US20 million. He was also behind the popular Stanford T20 competitions held in the West Indies in 2006 and 2008.

Prosecutors declined to comment due to a gag order that will remain in effect until other Stanford bank executives face trial. They cited moving testimony, however, in a press release announcing the verdict.
"This was not a bloodless financial crime carried out on paper," Angie Shaw, director and founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition, said at the sentencing hearing.

"It was and is an inconceivably heinous crime and it has taken a staggering toll on the victims."

Abuses of trust

Jaime Escalona, who represents victims from Latin America, told Stanford he "took advantage of the trust that is placed in US companies and caused losses that prevented families from being able to pay for medical and basic living expenses."

In a tearful speech, Stanford blamed the collapse of his empire on the "Gestapo tactics" of overzealous prosecutors and insisted that his investments would have eventually paid dividends, KHOU news reported.

"I'm not a thief," Stanford, who did not testify at trial, told the judge. "I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself."

Hittner ordered Stanford to serve the bulk of his penalties consecutively rather than concurrently, which means he will die in jail if he is unable to overturn the conviction at appeal or obtain a pardon.

Hittner also imposed a $US5.9 billion "personal money judgment" ordering Stanford to repay his criminal proceeds, but found it "impractical" to issue a restitution order, prosecutors said.

Jurors had previously ruled that Stanford should forfeit the $US330 million investigators discovered in 29 foreign bank accounts.

Badly beaten in a jailhouse brawl, Stanford was temporarily declared unfit for trial after he became addicted to painkillers while also on antidepressants.

He tried to have his case completely dismissed after claiming that the beating and drugs destroyed his memory, but the judge denied the request.

Defense attorneys at trial tried to shift the blame to former chief financial officer James Davis, who they accused of perpetrating the entire fraud while Stanford naively placed his trust in his former college roommate.


JUNE 14, 2012

R. Allen Stanford gets 110 years; victims representative calls Stanford a "dirty, rotten scoundrel"

Calling it “one of the most egregious frauds” to ever be presented to a jury, on June 14 Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced 62-year-old financier R. Allen Stanford of Houston to 110 years in prison.

In March, a federal court jury found Stanford, former chairman of Houston’s Stanford Financial Group, guilty of 13 of 14 criminal counts against him. Jurors found him not guilty of one count of wire fraud.

Stanford was charged in connection with an alleged conspiracy to defraud investors who bought about $7 billion in CDs sold through Stanford International Bank (SIB).

Stanford, dressed in a green prison suit, showed little reaction to the sentence Hittner delivered shortly after noon on June 14 in a large Houston courtroom packed with people who lost money after they bought CDs from SIB. Leaders of two groups of disgruntled investors asked Hittner to impose the maximum sentence of 230 years.

Jaime Escalona, a representative of Stanford victims from Latin America, told Hittner that Stanford was a “dirty, rotten scoundrel” while Angela Shaw Kogutt, director of the Stanford Victims Coalition, said Stanford committed an “inconceivably heinous crime” that “took our lives as we knew them.”

 Hittner sentenced Stanford after criminal-defense attorney Ali Fazel told Hittner he should sentence Stanford to no more than 120 months in prison and federal prosecutor William Stelnach, of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., sought the maximum of 230 years in prison.

Fazel, a partner in Scardino & Fazel in Houston, told Hittner that despite the government’s contention, Stanford Financial Group was not a Ponzi scheme, because the Stanford companies had made investments. Fazel said in 2008 and 2009 the troubled economy, not Stanford, was the proximate cause of the collapse of SFG.

Following Fazel’s argument, Stanford, who did not testify at trial, gave a 40-minute rambling, disjointed speech to Hittner prior to his sentencing, during which Stanford blamed the economic decline of his companies on a government receivership imposed on Feb. 17, 2009, and the “near worldwide economic collapse.” The government used “Gestapo tactics” in imposing the receivership, he told Hittner.

“I didn’t intend to — never did — to . . . personally defraud anyone,” Stanford told Hittner.
 He told Hittner he wasn’t asking for sympathy or forgiveness, but said, “I’m telling you in my heart, I didn’t run a Ponzi scheme.”

“Whether I was a scapegoat, whether I just happened to be the thing to be used to deflect, I don’t know. All I know is every day . . . I do put the blame on the government for what they did. . . . I feel bad for the people, the clients who got hurt, the employees,” Stanford said in court.

“I’ve been called a lot of things — arrogant, abrasive, son-of-a-gun, difficult and very opinionated, strong-willed — like anyone in life who’s achieved the same characteristics. I’m not a thief,” he told Hittner.

 Stelnach, deputy chief of the U.S. Department of Justice Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, told Hittner that Stanford’s statement was “obscene,” and the Mexia native is “one of the greediest criminals to ever appear in a criminal case.”

“Mr. Stanford proclaimed himself a scapegoat. . . . He just showed one more time his deceit and complete lack of remorse . . .,” Stelnach said. “It was a blatant Ponzi scheme. Stanford International Bank was his personal ATM.”

Stelnach said, conservatively, SFG lost $5.9 billion. [See the sentencing memo.]

A gag order that bars Stanford’s defense team and prosecutors from commenting on any aspect of the case remains in effect. Hittner said he would not lift the gag order because of the pending criminal trial of Stanford’s three co-defendants. That trial is set for September.

-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys


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