Billionaire R. Allen Stanford arrived at a federal courthouse Thursday wearing handcuffs and leg chains as he faces charges of fraud and conspiracy on allegations he swindled investors out of $7 billion in an elaborate pyramid scheme.
Stanford, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit and dark slip-on shoes, was the last inmate off the corrections shuttle bus.
Stanford and three executives from his now defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group are set to be arraigned, a week after a grand jury returned a 21-count indictment.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy is also expected to decide if Stanford will be allowed to be free on bond pending trial.
Stanford was arrested June 18 in Virginia. He was returned to Texas on Tuesday and was being held in the Montgomery County Jail in Conroe, located just north of Houston, according to his attorney Dick DeGuerin.
Each of the most serious counts Stanford faces carry prison terms of up to 20 years.
Indicted Stanford executives Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt were also set to enter pleas during Thursday's hearing before Stacy.
The billionaire and the executives are accused of orchestrating a massive fraud by misusing most of the $7 billion they advised clients to invest in certificates of deposit from the Stanford International Bank, based on the Caribbean island of Antigua.
Also indicted but still not in custody is Leroy King, the former chief executive officer of Antigua's Financial Services Regulatory Commission.
Stanford, Pendergest-Holt, Lopez, Kuhrt and King are charged with wire fraud; mail fraud; conspiracy to commit mail, wire and securities fraud; and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
Stanford, Pendergest-Holt and King are also charged with conspiring to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation and obstruction of an SEC investigation.
The indictment charged Stanford and the others with falsely claiming to have grown $1.2 billion in assets in 2001 to roughly $8.5 billion by the end of 2008. The operation had roughly 30,000 investors, officials said.
Investigators say even as Stanford claimed healthy returns for those investors, he was secretly diverting more than $1.6 billion in personal loans to himself.
The indictment also says Stanford and the other executives misrepresented the Antigua island bank's financial condition, its investment strategy and how it was regulated.
James Davis, 60, Stanford Financial Group's chief financial officer, faces similar charges in a criminal information. He is due in court July 1.
A separate indictment in Florida accused another Stanford worker, Bruce Perraud, of destroying records important to the investigation.
The SEC filed a civil lawsuit in February accusing Stanford and his top executives of committing crimes similar to those in the indictment.