Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford, whose financial empire once spanned the Americas, was convicted Tuesday on all but one of 14 counts for bilking investors out of more than $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme he operated for 20 years.
Jurors reached the verdicts during their fourth day of deliberation, finding him guilty on all charges except a single count of wire fraud. Stanford looked down when the verdict was read. His mother and daughters, who were in the federal courtroom in Houston, hugged one another, and one of the daughters started crying.
"We are disappointed in the outcome. We expect to appeal," Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's attorneys, said after the hearing.
Prosecutors called Stanford a con artist who lined his pockets with investors' money to fund failed businesses, pay for a lavish lifestyle that included yachts and jets, and bribe regulators to help him hide his scheme. Stanford's attorneys told jurors the financier was a visionary entrepreneur who made money for investors and conducted legitimate business deals.
Stanford, 61, who's been jailed since his indictment in 2009, will remain incarcerated until he is sentenced. He faces up to 20 years for the most serious charges against him, but the once highflying businessman could spend longer than that behind bars if U.S. District Judge David Hittner orders the sentences to be served consecutively instead of concurrently.
With Stanford's conviction, a shorter, civil trial will be held with the same jury on prosecutors' efforts to seize funds from more than 30 bank accounts held by the financier or his companies around the world, including in Switzerland.
Stanford was once considered one of the wealthiest people in the U.S., with a net worth of more than $2 billion. But he had court-appointed attorneys after his assets were seized.
In the more than six-week trial, prosecutors methodically presented evidence, including testimony from ex-employees as well as e-mails and financial statements, they said showed Stanford orchestrated a 20-year scheme that bilked billions from investors through the sale of certificates of deposit from his bank in the Caribbean island nation of Antigua.
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