Magistrate sets bond for Stanford, delays release

Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive investment scam.

A federal magistrate set bond at $500,000 but delayed Stanford's release until Friday to give prosecutors time to appeal her decision.

Two family members and a friend agreed to pay the bond, which includes $100,000 in cash, set by U.S. Magistrate Frances Stacy.

Stanford entered his plea during his arraignment in federal court. The financier was indicted on charges that his international banking empire was really just a colossal Ponzi scheme.

Laura Pendergest-Holt, Gilberto Lopez and Mark Kuhrt, three executives with the now defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group who were indicted along with their former boss, also entered not guilty pleas.

At Stanford's bond hearing, prosecutors argued he should be held without bond because he might have access to billions of dollars in secret funds.

Prosecutor Paul Pelletier said investigators found a secret Swiss account Stanford controlled that was drained of more than $100 million in December 2008.

Jeffrey Ferguson, a forensic examiner hired to review the records of Stanford Financial Group and its affiliated bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua, testified nearly $1.2 billion of the $7 billion Stanford and his co-defendants are accused of bilking from investors can't be accounted for.

In court documents filed Thursday, prosecutors also said Stanford faces a potential life sentence, has access to a private jet and has an international network of wealthy acquaintances who would help him, including one who recently agreed to give him $36,000 to pay his lease on a Houston apartment for a year.

Dick DeGuerin, Stanford's attorney, objected to Pelletier characterizing the account as secret, saying it was known to Stanford's employees.

"It's just wrong and it's designed to prejudice potential jurors who will hear this case," DeGuerin said.

DeGuerin argued in court documents that Stanford is not a flight risk and highlighted his charity efforts, including his work with a foundation for single mothers in Antigua, strong ties to his children and amicable relationships with the mothers of his kids as examples of his strong character.

Stanford has been in federal custody since he was arrested in Virginia on June 18.

Stanford denies allegations he defrauded investors, but tried to surrender to federal authorities in the months before his indictment was handed down last week. Authorities couldn't take him into custody until charges were filed.

Stanford was returned to Texas on Tuesday. He was being held in the Montgomery County Jail in Conroe, just north of Houston. He arrived in court in leg irons, handcuffs and an orange prison jumpsuit.

Each of the most serious counts that Stanford faces carry prison terms of up to 20 years. But prosecutors say sentencing guidelines could increase his total sentence to life in prison.

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.

Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...