ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Having been sentenced to 110 years for running a $7 billion scheme, former billionaire, R Allen Stanford, will remain in a federal detention centre in Houston, Texas for the next 30 to 60 days while the Bureau of Prisons decides where he will serve his time.
In handing down judgement yesterday, US District Judge David Hittner said Stanford’s actions were among the most “egregious criminal frauds.”
But in a statement that lasted 40 minutes, Stanford denied committing fraud or running a Ponzi scheme and blamed the US government for ruining a business he said had enough assets to repay its depositors.
“They destroyed it and turned it to nothing,” he said, insisting that he was “not a thief.”
In March, a jury convicted Stanford of 13 charges, including fraud and conspiracy for selling certificates of deposit from his bank in Antigua to thousands of investors in the United States and Latin America.
He had already spent some of those proceeds on yachts, girlfriends, sponsorship of a cricket tournament and other accoutrements of a high-rolling life.
Investors who lost money said the crimes were worse than those of Bernard Madoff, who is serving a 150-year sentence after pleading guilty in March 2009 to running a $65bn Ponzi scheme that has devastated thousands of investors around the world.
Before sentencing Stanford, Judge Hittner told the packed courtroom that he had personally read each one of the 350 letters written by defrauded depositors detailing the impact on their lives.
“I owed it to each writer to consider them,” the judge said.
One of the victims, Angela Shaw, said Stanford preyed on retired teachers, veterans and refinery workers – unlike Madoff, who targeted the wealthy.
“He stole more than millions. He stole our lives as we knew them,” Shaw said.
Antigua-based Kate Freeman of the Stanford International Victims Group was among those monitoring the sentencing via the social networking site Twitter.
She told OBSERVER Media that most of the victims of the 62 year old would feel good to know he is “behind bars for the rest of his life.”
“He sentenced a lot of his victims to a terrible life, a lot of them with severe poverty for the rest of their lives and he deserves to pay for it,” said.
Freeman agreed with US Prosecutor William Stellmach, who, prior to the ruling, had told the judge: “This is a man utterly without remorse. He treated his victims like roadkill.”
Defense attorney Ali Fazel told reporters he was worried the judge would give Stanford the full 230 years sought by prosecutors, and described the punishment as harsh.
“It (110 years) will be tough on him,” said Fazel, adding that the sentence would be appealed.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)