Thursday, April 25, 2024

Stanford declared broke


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HOUSTON  – United States District Judge David Hittner has given Allen Stanford, accused of orchestrating a US$7 billion fraud through the Stanford International Bank, his fifth set of lawyers, only three months prior to the scheduled January 24 start date for Stanford’s criminal trial.
Stanford was officially declared broke on Wednesday in Federal District Court in Houston.
“Mr. Stanford has filed an affidavit of indigency, so we now have to appoint counsel at government expense,” Judge Hittner said.
Hittner dismissed Stanford’s criminal defense lawyer, Robert S. Bennett, and appointed two new and far-cheaper lawyers.
Earlier this month, Stanford lost his bid to force Lloyd’s of London to continue paying his legal bills under a US$100 million policy. So far, the policy has paid out more than US$8.2 million.
At the time of that ruling, Mr. Bennett said that he hoped the government would continue paying at least as much of the legal fees as the insurance policy would have covered.
Mr. Bennett had been charging as much as US$1,000 an hour to defend Stanford but the government’s going rate is only US$125 an hour. On Wednesday, Mr. Bennett asked to withdraw from the case.
He was replaced by two Houston lawyers, Ali Fazel and Robert Scardino.
Stanford has already gone through six sets of lawyers –  including the public defender in Houston – since he was first accused in February 2009 of running a huge Ponzi scheme.
The Securities and Exchange Commission, which brought civil fraud charges against Stanford, also froze his assets and shut down the Stanford Financial Group, making it difficult for him to pay his lawyers. The ruling against him in the Lloyd’s of London case basically made it impossible.
Stanford was indicted on criminal fraud charges in June 2009. He has been denied bail and held in jail in Texas since then because of fears that he is likely to flee. (CMC)

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