Las víctimas olvidadas de Stanford ahora disponible en español

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Billionaire Stanford Gets Public Defender In Fraud Case

R. Allen Stanford, the Texas financier accused of running a $7 billion investor fraud, will be represented by the federal public defender's office in his criminal case because he has no money to hire an attorney.

Kent Schaffer, a private-practice lawyer in Houston who attended Tuesday's hearing at that city's federal courthouse, said afterward he will work with the public defender's office on Stanford's case.

Stanford, who denies all wrongdoing, was brought to court in shackles from jail, where he is being held until trial on charges he bilked investors in a "massive" Ponzi scheme involving certificates of deposit at Antigua-based Stanford International Bank. The head of the Stanford Financial Group was ranked the 205th-richest American in 2008 by Forbes magazine, which estimated his net worth at $2 billion.

Regulators and investors have fought attempts to unlock legal defense funds from Stanford's seized assets, which were frozen by court order on Feb. 17 when the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused him of investor fraud. Stanford is also being denied access to his company's liability insurance policy, after the court-appointed receiver claimed those funds may be needed to defend Stanford's companies against lawsuits.

Stanford's previous attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has estimated it will cost more than $20 million and take a year to prepare for a trial that could last six months. Stanford faces spending the rest of his life in prison if convicted of the most serious of 21 felony counts against him.

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