Las víctimas olvidadas de Stanford ahora disponible en español

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Jurors: 'Difficult process'

By Terri Langford and Lindsay Wise
Thursday, March 8, 2012

Jurors who convicted R. Allen Stanford of fraud agreed early in their
deliberations that he was guilty of all but one of the charges against him,
found the government's star witness credible and felt sympathy for investors who lost millions, they said after completing their seven weeks of duty Thursday.

"The jury returned unanimous verdicts, and we think they speak for
themselves," said foreman John Wojciak. "It was a difficult process. We went through each piece of evidence. I think we worked very hard. We did the best job we could for 12 people."

Earlier this week, the four-woman, eight-man jury convicted the 61-year-old
native Texan of masterminding a $7 billion investor fraud through his bank
in the Caribbean nation of Antigua. On Thursday, the same jury decided that
$330 million located in international bank accounts belonged to Stanford's
investors, clearing the way for the U.S. government to get that money back.

Another juror, accountant David Wright, said the jury would like to have
heard from Stanford, who chose not to testify, but that it wouldn't have
changed the result.

Juror Lendon Hilburn, a retiree, agreed: "I thought overall it was

Bruce Forrest, 47, who heard all the testimony but was dismissed as an
alternate before the start of deliberations, returned to the courthouse to
visit with his former jury colleagues after they completed their work. "The
totality of the information from the government was overwhelming," he said.

Forrest, a Pasadena optician, added that although investors won't get all
their money back, he hoped the verdict will bring them some comfort.

"It was not their fault," he said, adding that he hopes U.S. District Judge
David Hittner sentences Stanford to as much prison time as possible. "I hope he never sees the light of day," Forrest said.

The six weeks of testimony were trying for jurors. But the government's
case, from their view, appeared solid. Still, they said they combed
carefully through boxes of evidence to find Stanford guilty on 13 of 14
fraud related counts.

"We talked about every charge over and over until we got it right," said
juror Michael Madrigal, 39, owner of Mike's Pawn Shop in Houston.

Wright and Forrest found the government's star witness, former Stanford
Financial Chief Financial Officer James Davis, more than credible. Davis,
the financial services empire's No. 2 executive, pleaded guilty for his part in the decades-old scheme, in exchange for his testimony against his boss and former Baylor University roommate.

"I found him believable even though he had made the deal with the
government," Wright said.

Jurors interviewed said that Stanford misled investors who bought
certificates of deposit from the Antiguan bank.

"When you do people wrong like that - and he did it for so long - it was all going to catch up with him," Madrigal said. "And it caught up with him, and he deserves what he got."

Referring to the decision Thursday allowing the government to pursue the
money in bank accounts, Madrigal said, "I'm glad we got every dime we could
from him. ... He still owes them (investors) 7 billion dollars."

Stanford, who could spend the rest of his life in prison on the criminal
conviction, showed no reaction to Thursday's forfeiture verdict - which
involved some accounts that he never controlled but which the jury found
contained money obtained illegally.

Antiguan authorities also are seeking to claim some of the accounts -
proceeds of which eventually could go to pay back some of the millions of
dollars investors lost.

After reading the verdict on the forfeiture issue, U.S. District Judge David Hittner thanked the jurors for service that began Jan. 23, telling them they had "performed admirably." He set Stanford's sentencing for June 14, and said he will hear victim impact statements from investors who lost money.

Stanford's lawyers have said he will appeal the conviction, and defense
attorney Robert Scardino suggested Thursday that one key appeal point might
be the lack of adequate preparation time. Hittner ruled a month before trial that Stanford was competent, after treatment for addiction to medications prescribed when he was injured in a jailhouse fight in 2009. His lawyers had argued that he suffered memory loss that limited his ability to aid in his defense.

"Our client spent almost nine months in a mental facility in North Carolina
before the trial," Scardino said. "We had 30 days with a competent client."

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