By Patsy R. Brumfield | NEMS Daily Journal
Opening arguments are expected later today against accused swindler R. Allen Stanford.
Nearly 21/2 years after his arrest, 61-year-old Stanford went on trial Monday in Houston, Texas, where he headquartered his financial empire before it came crashing down in 2009.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner told potential jurors he expects the trial to last six weeks and and he took charge first-hand to select the 14 people who’ll sit as jurors, including two alternates.
Among those called for jury duty were people with legal, accountancy and financial skills backgrounds.
Reports by writers over social message-board Twitter say Stanford’s jury selection went into today because additional questioning was needed for about 36 of the 80 potential jurors called to federal court.
Stanford insists he is not guilty, and that whatever happened to his investors’ finances was the fault of his chief financial officer, James Davis, who once lived northwest of Baldwyn and worked out of Tupelo and Memphis.
Davis pleaded guilty to his part in the $7.2 billion scandal in August 2009 and is expected to take the stand as the government’s witness soon.
Houston Chronicle reporter Mike Tolson wrote that Hittner showed them a chess timer he will use to keep track of the time used by lawyers for Stanford and the government.
As the proceedings broke at midday, Stanford, attired in a gray suit and tie-less blue shirt, questioned his attorney about whether he’d be having another peanut-butter sandwich for lunch.
Apparently, tweeted Chronicle reporter Terry Langston, the one he’d had last week during a pre-trial hearing was on stale bread.
More than 20,000 people worldwide say they lost their savings when Stanford Financial Group’s empire collapsed under fraud accusations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
More than a thousand Mississippians claim to be victims, buying bogus certificates of deposit through local financial advisers with offices in Tupelo, Jackson and Memphis, Tenn.
The CDs were worthless with the demise of Caribbean-based Stanford International Bank Ltd., through which they were sold.
A large contingent of media is following the trial. Many reporters use the Internet messaging program Twitter to post court happenings directly from the Houston federal courtroom.
Several British newspapers are among them from Stanford’s days of owning a professional cricket team. Once, he announced plans for a fancy cricket venue in England.
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