HOUSTON, Texas – Allen Stanford is a very big man physically, about 6-foot, 6-inches tall.
He played big, spending millions on polo matches and boats.
He’s also on record as living big with a wife, a fiancée and several other women who bore him children throughout other relationships.
Today, he’s literally sweating it out in a Conroe, Texas, jail cell awaiting trial on federal charges that he masterminded a scheme to defraud Stanford International Bank investors out of $7 billion since 1987.
One of his fellow defendants, James M. Davis of Baldwyn, pleaded guilty last week to three charges related to the investigation and faces up to 30 years in prison.
His lawyers are sweating it out because they haven’t been paid to defend his expensive prosecution, whenever a trial date is set.
That’s because all of his company and personal assets were seized Feb. 17 by a court-appointed receiver in Dallas, who is seeking to build a victims fund. That receiver is under criticism for sucking up at least a third of the estate in his office’s own legal fees.
Despite his obvious excesses and high profile, Stanford was a “quiet” real estate player in Houston, observers say.
During the 1980s, the Mexia, Texas, native began his empire by buying distressed apartment complexes when lots of properties could be had cheaply after the oil bust and savings and loan crisis.
From there, he launched into banks, real estate, sports sponsorships and publishing from Houston to the Caribbean island country of Antigua.
His highest-profile Houston acquisition was the somewhat unflashy 5050 Westheimer, a former engineering firm building, which Stanford bought in 1996.
Local reports say he probably wanted it because it was located directly across the street from the popular Galleria shopping district.
He also leased 10 floors on 5051 Westheimer, with a contract to buy that building and two sister buildings across the street for $150 million.
His family and attachments are scattered across a generally swanky area of Houston. Many of the properties were seized by the receiver, with occupants facing eviction.
He and his wife, Susan, now estranged, lived in the upscale Tanglewood area at 5476 Holly Springs Drive. The Spanish-style home, with red-tile roof and white stucco exterior, looks comfortable but not particularly impressive among a neighborhood of near-mansions.
His fiancée’, Andrea Stoelker, and Stanford maintained a home in the multi-storied Museum Tower at 4899 Montrose Blvd. Stoelker still lives in No. 1304 while a federal court document says Stanford’s son and daughter, Ross and Allena Stanford, and their mother, Louise Sage, who moved to Houston from Dallas, are living in the same apartment building in No. 1905.
A third woman friend reportedly resides at the Montrose address. A Houston reporter covering the story since its inception says this woman previously resided with Stanford in a Miami castle.
Adult daughter, Randi, appears to be facing eviction from her high-rise Huntingdon condo at 2121 Kirby Drive.
Stanford’s son, Reid, has moved to Houston “to be near his father,” a document notes, and will finish high school there. His mother also is named Susan Stanford, although she and Stanford have never been married.
Another woman, named Rebecca Reeves-Stanford, who also has been attached to Stanford for decades but not married to him, is in the legal crosshairs over $1.4 million Stanford turned over to her. She reportedly bought a home in Florida, then sold it and transferred the funds to New Zealand after the receiver asked her for information about it.
Court documents also mention apartments at airports in Sugar Land, Texas, and Antigua.
Goods for sale
Many of SFG’s Miami office furnishings are being sold by Florida-based AMC Liquidators.
At least 25 truckloads of luxury office goods are up for sale, including Oriental rugs, marble tables and leather couches. Bronze eagles (the symbol of Stanford Financial Group) are also on the block, as are photos of Palm Beach County polo grounds that Stanford sponsored, and a tapestry of Louis XIV of France, the “sun king.”
AMC priced a Stanford marble side table with claw feet at $1,699, and bronze eagle statues go for $999.
People who have seen inside the Stanford Financial Group’s Houston office say it may look unimposing on the outside, but inside it features black and white marble floors, black toilets, gilt eagles and other expensive trappings.
Stanford’s personal office reportedly held expensive business suits and other items, now controlled by the receiver.
Not visible to most are a live-on boat, six planes and lavish homes scattered around the world, reportedly owned or leased by the business.
Stanford, who had asked to be moved from his prison because of the heat, is expected back in court soon to resolve the problem of non-payment of attorneys. When it all shakes out, it’s possible he may get just enough money to hire somebody, but not a Legal Eagle, or he could be declared indigent and get help from the Federal Public Defender’s Office.
Lawyers familiar with the case say Stanford’s likely to take his case all the way to trial, especially after he saw the book thrown at former colleague Davis, who has spent months cooperating with the federal investigations.
Either way, it’s probably many months away.
And either way, the Stanford empire with all its glitz and glamour isn’t likely to recover.
Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or email@example.com. Read her blog, From the Front Row, on NEMS360.com.
Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal