“He wants to con his way out of this case the same way he conned investors for more than 20 years...Don’t let him do it.”
- Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa
A Houston federal judge ruled that R. Allen Stanford, accused of masterminding a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, was competent to stand trial after a three-day hearing, and scheduled jury selection to begin January 23. United States District Judge David Hittner ruled that Stanford was able to assist in his own defense, a conclusion that Stanford's lawyers had vigorously disputed during the hearing through the testimony of several experts. The prosecution produced several of its own experts to counter the defense, including Stanford's prison psychologist who interacted with Stanford on a weekly basis during an eight-month period of treatment at a North Carolina federal prison and strongly felt Stanford was "faking" his amnesia.
The two-and-a-half day hearing saw various medical professionals argue over the extent of injuries suffered by Stanford following a beating at the hands of a fellow prison inmate in 2009. This included testimony during the second day of the hearing by a forensic psychiatrist hired by Stanford's team that Stanford couldn't recall some of his children or romantic encounters. Additionally, news coverage of testimony from a defense-hired neurologist that Stanford was a suicide risk resulted in Stanford's placement in psychiatric watch for observation that night.
Stanford's situation is unique in that he has maintained his innocence rather than plead guilty. As a result of the majority of assets controlled by his financial empire being located overseas, many see their recovery occurring only with the aid of a forfeiture order obtained through a criminal trial verdict. The court-appointed receiver, Ralph Janvey, has estimated that over $1 billion in recoverable assets remain outstanding.
Along with Stanford, several other accomplices were indicted and are expected to stand trial soon after Stanford. These include Antigua's top regulator responsible for overseeing the offshore bank. The former chief financial officer for Stanford's bank, James Davis, earlier pled guilty to conspiracy and is expected to testify against Stanford and the remaining accused.
Immediately after Judge Hittner's ruling, Stanford's lawyers filed papers seeking a three-month delay in the commencement of the trial due to the voluminous documents that Stanford would now have to review having been found competent. The defense claims that Stanford must review millions of pages of documents in order to prepare for trial, and that a month to do so is simply impossible. Judge Hittner is expected to rule on the motion sometime next week.
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