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Friday, March 9, 2012

Stanford Must Forfeit All Funds in Seized Accounts, Houston Jury Decides

By Andrew Harris and Laurel Brubaker Calkins - Mar 8, 2012

R. Allen Stanford, who was convicted of running a $7 billion investment
fraud, must forfeit all funds seized by the U.S. government, a federal jury
in Houston said, finding that the money constituted proceeds of the scheme.

The jury of eight men and four women returned their verdict today in their
second day of deliberations in the forfeiture proceeding, which began less
than three hours after they returned guilty verdicts March 6 on 13 of 14
criminal counts against Stanford, 61.

R. Allen Stanford was convicted of fraud in what prosecutors said was a $7
billion scheme involving bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based
bank. A federal jury in Houston today found the financier guilty of all but
one of the 14 counts against him, including wire and mail fraud and
obstructing a federal regulatory investigation. Stanford, 61, faces as long
as 20 years in prison for each fraud count.

Prosecutors said Stanford defrauded investors who bought certificates of
deposit from his Antigua bank. The jury granted total forfeiture on 29
accounts prosecutors said are worth $330 million.

"We won't say it's what we expected," Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's
attorneys, said after the forfeiture verdict.

Before the decision was announced, Stanford sat with his lawyers at the
defense table, laughing occasionally. As the verdict was read, he looked
over at his mother, Sammie, and his daughter Randi. The two women later left the courthouse carrying the suit and dress shirt Stanford had worn in court.


Stanford was ordered to forfeit money deposited in bank accounts in London,
Zurich, Geneva and elsewhere, which prosecutors said was the product of
criminal activity.

'Proceeds Remain Proceeds'
"Proceeds remain proceeds," Andrew Warren, a federal prosecutor, told the
jury in a closing statement. "It's CD depositor money, money that should be
forfeited."

Stanford was found guilty of lying to investors about the nature and
oversight of the certificates of deposit issued by Antigua-based Stanford
International Bank Ltd. and sold in the U.S. by his Houston-based securities firm, Stanford Group Co.

After a six-week trial, the jury convicted him on four counts of wire fraud
and five counts of mail fraud, each of which carries a top sentence of 20
years in prison. He was also convicted of conspiracy and obstructing a U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission probe. He was found not guilty of one
wire fraud count. U.S. District Judge David Hittner set June 14 for
sentencing.

"The jury returned unanimous verdicts and we think they speak for
themselves," John Wojciak, the jury foreman, said today after the forfeiture trial. "It was a very difficult process."

Boxes of Evidence
The jury examined 10 to 12 boxes of evidence, said Wojciak, an environmental engineer. He refused to answer questions from reporters.

Billie Wade, 69, a retired hairdresser who described herself during jury
selection as "the dumbest person in this room," said Stanford's arrogance
made the biggest impression on her, more than any evidence or testimony.

"His arrogance, every day," she said.

Bruce Forrest, a 47-year-old alternate juror, was dismissed before
deliberations began and returned to the courthouse today. He said
prosecutors presented "overwhelming evidence" of Stanford's guilt.

Forrest said James Davis, Stanford's former finance chief, was the most
compelling witness. Davis, who reached a guilty- plea agreement with the
U.S. in 2009, testified for five days against Stanford.

Forrest said he believed Davis "even though he made that deal with the
government."

Stanford, who didn't testify, maintains his innocence. His defense lawyers
argued that the Stanford organization had enough assets to honor its
commitments until the SEC sued in February 2009 and won a court order
freezing his holdings and appointing a receiver to liquidate them.

'Missed Any Issues'
Robert Scardino, Stanford's other attorney, said he and Fazel will ask the
court to have other lawyers review their work to see if they made any
mistakes or "missed any issues."

Fazel said there are many grounds for appeal.

Stanford, who sustained head injuries in a 2009 inmate assault at a jail in
Houston, developed an addiction to prescription anti-anxiety drugs and spent almost nine months in a federal prison hospital. His lawyers tried to delay the trial, arguing that their client was suicidal and might never
sufficiently recover from the beating to face a jury.

Hittner declared Stanford legally competent and ordered the trial to go
ahead.

"That will be an issue," Fazel said. "It will be a lengthy appeal."

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