By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON, Texas – Fallen financier R. Allen Stanford’s jury began deliberations today on allegations of worldwide fraud and financial intrigue.
Before it did, prosecutors and defense attorneys made their final pitches for his conviction or acquittal.
“Fraud is just theft in a business suit,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa told Stanford’s jury in final closing arguments, The Houston Chronicle reported. “Tell Mr. Stanford that his days of conning people are at an end.”
After three alternates were excused, the eight men and four women began deliberations about 3:50 p.m. in Houston, where Stanford built his financial services empire.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who’s presiding over the case, will be away from the federal courthouse on Friday and said that if the verdict comes then, it will be sealed for announcement Monday.
Defense attorney Ali Fazel told the jury no evidence exists that Stanford cheated anyone.
“How could it happen with just two people,” he asked, referring to Stanford and the government’s key witness, James M. Davis, who was Stanford’s right-hand-man and chief financial officer nearly two decades.
Stanford, 61, was indicted in 2009 accused is leading a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on purchasers of certificates of deposit in his Stanford International Bank Ltd. in Antigua.
The 14 counts against him include mail and wire fraud, conspiracy to obstruct and obstruction of a government investigation and money-laundering.
• Read more in Thursday’s Daily Journal.