By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
James M. “Jim” Davis did his job for the government, Allen Stanford’s jurors told reporters.
Davis, 62, was Stanford’s former Baylor University roommate and business empire chief financial officer. He also was the federal government’s chief witness against his former boss on trial in Texas across the past six weeks.
Bruce Forrest, a 47-year-old alternate juror, termed the former Baldwyn businessman the government’s “most compelling” witness, he told Bloomberg News.
Forrest was dismissed before jury deliberations began but returned to the downtown Houston courthouse Thursday to meet with the other jurors and U.S. District Judge David Hittner.
Stanford, 61, was found guilty Tuesday on 13 of 14 counts that he masterminded a $7.2 billion swindle of certificate of deposit buyers through his Stanford International Bank in Antigua.
His attorneys say they will appeal after he’s sentenced June 14 in Houston, where Stanford built his financial services empire.
Speaking to reporters, Forrest said he believed Davis across his five days of testimony, “even though he made that deal with the government.”
In August 2009, Davis pleaded guilty to three counts associated with the Ponzi scheme. He faces up to 30 years in prison but said he hopes for leniency after he completes his promised cooperation with the government.
Davis is expected to testify in September for a trial on similar charges against three former Stanford executives – including Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt – and a former Antiguan bank regulator.
Before his arrest, Davis was a handsome, back-slapping corporate executive who often worked out of Stanford offices in Memphis and Tupelo.
He and his wife built a $1.4 million home with a lake west of Baldwyn in Union County.
At Stanford’s trial, Davis appeared a haggard, gaunt version of himself and told jurors he tried to retire from his 17 years running the Stanford scheme because the deceit “was killing me.”
Other jurors told The Houston Chronicle they found David credible and felt sympathy for investors who lost millions.
Jurors also said they found Davis convincing in his testimony that money clients invested in Stanford’s bank was used to finance his pet ventures and luxuries like private jets and beachfront estates.
Juryman Davis Wright, an accountant, termed the evidence against Stanford “overwhelming.”
Stanford’s financial empire collapsed in mid-2009 under the weight of a federal investigation.
Bloomberg reports the jurors said Stanford was brought down by his own arrogance and greed.
Forrest recalled testimony from Sohil Merchant, Stanford’s information technology chief, who recalled having to repeatedly fly in laptops to replace ones the financier smashed against walls or dropped into water.
“There’s an arrogance that goes with that,” Bloomberg quoted Forrest. “And to find out he used other people’s money in order to accomplish all this – along with arrogance comes greed.”
Juror Carlos Anez, a 27-year-old industrial engineer, said it wouldn’t have mattered if Stanford had taken the witness stand, given the amount of evidence against him.
“It was a lot,” he said.
Billie Wade, 69, a retired hairdresser who described herself during jury selection as “the dumbest person in this room,” said Stanford’s attitude made the biggest impression on her, more than any evidence or testimony.
“His arrogance, every day,” she said after the jury decided that Stanford must forfeit $330 million seized by the government.
Wade said she had no interest in hearing from Stanford.
The jury granted total forfeiture on 29 bank accounts in London, Zurich, Geneva and elsewhere. The money will go to Stanford’s victims, the U.S. Justice Department said.
Since 2009, a court-appointed receiver has been selling off Stanford’s homes, yachts and other property to build a victims pool, although many worry the receiver’s own costs will eat up most of what’s recovered.
The London Telegraph also reported that the England and Wales Cricket Board, which runs an annual tournament, told its county-members its lawyers advised they were safe from American creditors for about $5 million from Stanford, who sought to host a $20-million match in Antigua.
Stanford remains in the Houston federal detention center until he’s sentenced.