Thirty family members and friends of fallen financier Allen Stanford have written letters to the U.S. District Court in Houston, Texas, asking a judge to free him on bond because he is becoming mentally unstable in a federal jail.
Earlier this week, a defense psychiatrist reported to the court that Stanford is on the verge of a “complete mental breakdown,” since his incarceration last summer.
Stanford, four former employees of Stanford Financial Group and an Antiguan bank regulator were accused last June in a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme upon investors in certificates of deposit sold through Stanford International Bank Ltd. based in Antigua.
One of the accused, James M. Davis of Baldwyn, pleaded guilty and will be sentenced after the others’ trial, set to begin Jan. 24, 2011, in Houston, Texas.
Stanford is the only defendant jailed. Senior U.S. Judge David Hittner denied him bail and declared him a flight risk. Stanford has been in jail ever since, except for a few days of hospitalization for an irregular heart beat and outpatient surgery on a leg aneurysm.
Stanford’s 79-year-old mother, Sammie Stanford, is among those pleading for his release.
“I believe you would agree that Allen will only be able to mentally and physically work with his lawyers to the fullest of his ability,” she said, “if he is removed from the duress he has suffered and probably will suffer if he is confined to a prison cell.”
Stanford had an office in Tupelo and investors from the region were among thousands who lost millions of dollars in CDs. The financial empire collapsed last February with the announcement of a Securities & Exchange Commission investigation.
Others writing to Hittner are five of Stanford’s six children, his fiancee’, the mother of two of the children, another son’s mother and the mother of two other children. His legal wife is not among them, although their daughter, Randi Stanford, his eldest child, is.
His 18-year-old son, Robert Allen “A.J.” Stanford Jr., insists his father is not a flight risk.
“I can guarantee you that my dad will go nowhere if released on bail,” he writes. “He knows that running would get him nowhere, it would only make things worse.”
Before he was moved to Houston, Stanford repeatedly asked to be moved to another jail or to allow him to make bail.
His 13-year-old son, Ross, said he believes his father will stay and fight to clear his name.
Stanford appeared in U.S. District Court last week and looked unkempt and 40 pounds lighter than in a previous court date.
Even an investor who lost money to Stanford asked for him to get bail.
“If he is found guilty by a jury that made a decision without any reasonable doubt, then put him in a 8×7 room, deny him medical attention, keep him shackled and handcuffed, allow no visitation or phone calls, throw away the key,” writes Charlotte Berry of Fairfield, Texas. “He deserves bail to be allowed to work with his attorneys in defending himself.”
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal