Stanford: Feds narrow charges against jailed one-time billionaire

HOUSTON, Texas – Fallen financier R. Allen Stanford faces a new, narrower indictment on federal charges he ran a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme.

The amended, 14-count indictment, filed Wednesday in Houston, Texas, drops five mail-fraud counts, two wire-fraud counts and a conspiracy count.

Stanford, 61, could still face as much as 20 years in prison if convicted on any of the 10 fraud counts in the revised complaint. No trial date has been set.

Four co-defendants – including Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt – in the original June 2009 indictment also were dropped from the new indictment. They are scheduled to go on trial after Stanford’s trial.

Prosecutors accuse Stanford of defrauding investors who bought bogus certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.

They said the one-time billionaire used proceeds in part to fund other ventures and a lavish lifestyle that included several yachts and private jets, and homes around the world.
Stanford, who pleaded not guilty, has been in federal custody since June 2009.

Scores of Mississippians count themselves among Stanford’s victims. Stanford Financial Group had offices in Tupelo, Jackson and Memphis.

It is unclear why the case was narrowed. Reuters News reported that U.S. Department of Justice spokeswoman Laura Sweeney declined to comment, citing a court-imposed gag order.

• For more details, read Friday’s Daily Journal or NEMS360.com

Patsy R. Brumfield/Daily Journal