Flamboyant financier Allen Stanford once told ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross he would "die and go to hell" if his $7 billion investment empire was a Ponzi scheme.
The 61-year-old may not be going to hell, but he could well be spending the rest of his life in prison. On Tuesday, a federal jury in Houston convicted Stanford of all but one of 14 charges of fraud and obstruction. Each fraud count carries a sentence of up to 20 years. The same jury is now deliberating how much money Stanford must forfeit.
The Texas-bred Stanford built an offshore financial empire in the Caribbean during the 1980s and 1990s, and won a knighthood – and the right to call himself Sir Allen Stanford – from the government of Antigua. By early 2009, the SEC and the FBI, among others, were investigating Stanford Financial Group because of its above-market rate of returns. On February 17, 2009, the feds raided Stanford's office in Texas, but did not arrest him until June.
In April 2009, Stanford told Ross in a tearful interview that he was innocent of any wrongdoing, calling accusations that he was running a Ponzi scheme "baloney," and threatened to punch Ross in the mouth. He said that investigators were after him because he was a "maverick rich Texan" and they wanted a "moosehead on the wall."
"I'm fighting for my survival and for my integrity," said Stanford.
After pleading not guilty in 2009, Stanford was assaulted by another prisoner while in federal custody and received head injuries. He spent nearly a year in a federal medical facility, and his attorneys tried to postpone his prosecution.
Instead, Stanford went on trial beginning in January, and prosecutors detailed how he had taken money from investors for fraudulent certificates of deposit and frittered it away on a lavish lifestyle and failed investments. While billions had passed through the Stanford Financial Group, prosecutors are asking for $300 million in assets. Defense attorneys intimated in opening statements that Stanford would testify, but he did not.
Sir Allen has already lost his knighthood. Antigua took it away in late 2009, not long after his arrest.