Stanford jurors continue deliberations
Texas, Mar 2, CMC – Jurors in the Allen Stanford criminal trial continue their deliberations Friday after asking the court for a dictionary on the first day to ascertain what “scheme” means in the context of the Texas financier’s 14-count indictment for alleged mail and wire fraud.
US prosecutor Gregg Costa and defence attorneys John Parra and Robert Scardinoconsulted two editions of Black’s Law Dictionary and a Webster’s dictionary.
Costa said he preferred “a design or plan” while defence attorneys favoured “a design or plan formed to accomplish some purpose”.
US District Judge David Hittner, presiding over the case, however, opted for “a design or plan”.
Stanford is accused of bilking tens of thousands of investors of US$7 billion in what prosecutors described as a “massive” Ponzi scheme involving certificates of deposit at Stanford’s Antigua-based Stanford International Bank (SIB). He has denied the allegations and did not testify in the six-week trial.
If the eight men and four women jury reaches a verdict on Friday, it will keep it secret until Monday when Judge Hittner returns.
The judge was not present in the courtroom late Thursday and will not be there on Friday because of prior commitments.
Prosecutors charged that Stanford stole investors’ money to finance his lavish lifestyle and myriad companies.
“Fraud is just theft in a business suit. Return with a verdict that speaks the truth, does justice, that tells Mr. Stanford his days of conning people are at an end,” said Costa in closing statement.
Prosecutors claimed that Stanford built a Houston-based financial services empire and a development company, bought two Caribbean airlines and “moved in aggressively” as cricket’s next mogul.
The defence, on the other hand, described the prosecution’s case as flimsy, claiming that its star witness, former Stanford chief financial officer James Davis only testified to avoid a hefty jail term.
In his closing argument, defence lawyer Ali Fazel said “there was no deceit, and this man is not guilty”.
If Stanford is found guilty on any of the 14 counts in the indictment, the jury will stay for a hearing on whether the US government may seize 36 Stanford-related bank accounts in the Caribbean, London, Switzerland and Florida.