Stanford won't testify, his defense tells judge

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

HOUSTON, Texas – Fallen financier R. Allen Stanford will turn his fate over to a jury without telling his side of a tale filled with sex, money and intrigue.
Mid-afternoon Monday, his defense wrapped up questions to expert witnesses and told U.S. District Judge David Hittner their client would not take the stand.
The defense rested after six weeks on trial in the city where Stanford built his financial services empire.
Stanford, 61, stands accused of 14 counts that he led a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on buyers of certificates of deposit through Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua.
His defense insists that a consolidation plan could have saved the worldwide company, but it fell apart after a federal receiver froze its assets because of a financial investigation.
Stanford’s 82-year-old mother, Sammi, told The Houston Chronicle after the decision not to testify, “I think nobody wanted him to (testify) but him.”
Court will not resume until Wednesday, when each side has two hours for closing arguments. The jury likely will begin deliberations later that afternoon.
Reporters in the courtroom said that if the jury reaches its verdict on Friday, when Hittner has a schedule conflict, the decision will be sealed and read on Monday.
A visiting judge will be available Friday while Hittner is away, in case the jury has questions.
The government, defense and Hittner were to hammer out instructions for the jury, which will pare down from 15 to 12 on Wednesday.
The trial began Jan. 24, nearly three years after Stanford was indicted, arrested and held without bond because prosecutors feared he was a flight risk.
Indicted with him were four ex-Stanford executives – James Davis, chief financial officer, and Laura Pendergest-Holt, both who hailed from northeast Mississippi, two others and a former Antiguan bank regulator.
In August 2009, Davis pleaded guilty to his participation and agreed to be the government’s chief witness against his former Baylor University roommate.
He’ll also testify in September when the others go on trial before Hittner.
Monday, the defense’s final expert witness was California certified fraud examiner Leonard Lyons.
He told the jury that once a certificate of deposit customer deposits the money, the bank owns the money and holds title to it.
Lyons also said the Stanford financial services empire’s consolidation was under way and would have benefited the bank’s financial position.
The government maintains that the consolidation plan was never implemented.
As to bank loans to Stanford, Lyons said they actually are “investment,” but called loans for tax purposes.
patsy.brumfield@journalinc.com