Financier Allen Stanford loses bid for new trial

Thu Mar 22, 2012 6:14pm EDT
 

By Jonathan Stempel

(Reuters) - The financier Allen Stanford on Thursday lost his bid for a new trial, 16 days after being convicted for running an estimated $7 billion Ponzi scheme.

District Judge David Hittner in Houston turned down Stanford's request for a new trial in a brief order, without explaining his reasons.

Stanford, who turns 62 on Saturday, was convicted on March 6 by a Houston federal jury on 13 of 14 counts related to what prosecutors called the sale of bogus certificates of deposit from his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.

The decision came one day after Stanford's lawyers said their client had been deprived of his Sixth Amendment right to a fair trial.

Among the reasons they cited was a lack of time to prepare a defense, extensive prejudicial pretrial publicity, and the potential that messages sent by reporters from the courtroom via Twitter might have reached jurors during the six-week trial.

Ali Fazel, a lawyer for Stanford, in an interview declined to comment specifically on Hittner's order, but said: "Motions for new trials are filed for many reasons, including making sure we articulate everything so that in an appeal, the appellate court would have a complete record."

Stanford is being held at a Houston federal detention center following his conviction on charges of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation.

He is scheduled to be sentenced on June 14, and could spend the rest of his life in prison. The jury also found that federal authorities should try to seize $330 million of frozen funds that Stanford stashed in 29 foreign bank accounts.

The case is U.S. v. Stanford, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas, No. 09-cr-00342.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Dale Hudson and Tim Dobbyn)

 
Allen Stanford leaves the Federal Courthouse where the jury found him guilty, in Houston March 6, 2012. REUTERS/Donna W. Carson