HOUSTON, Texas – R Allen Stanford, convicted of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, lost a retrial bid after complaining that Twitter comments by reporters may have influenced the jury that found him guilty.
US District Judge David Hittner, who presided over the trial, denied the request without explanation today in a one-sentence order.
Stanford, 61, was convicted March 6 after a five-week trial of 13 criminal counts stemming from an investment fraud built on bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.
His lawyers claimed in a March 20 filing that journalists’ real-time coverage of the trial on Twitter improperly influenced the jurors, who were warned to avoid other forms of media coverage.
“This court failed to sequester the jury and permitted the news media to occupy the courtroom during trial and permitted the media to ‘tweet’ throughout the trial,” Stanford said in his request for a new trial. The defense team also said they weren’t given enough time or money to prepare for the trial.
Stanford’s defense attorneys, Robert Scardino and Ali Fazel, didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment on the judge’s decision. Laura Sweeney, a spokeswoman for the US Justice Department, declined to comment.