|Friday, 15 June 2012 12:48|
Former billionaire Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years in prison on Thursday for running a $7 billion scheme in which he stole money from his investors to finance an extravagant lifestyle in the Caribbean.
US District Judge David Hittner said Stanford's actions were among the most "egregious criminal frauds" and investors who lost money said Stanford\'s crimes were worse than those of Bernard Madoff, another Ponzi schemer.
In March, a jury convicted Stanford of 13 charges including fraud and conspiracy for selling certificates of deposit from his bank in Antigua to thousands of investors in the United States and Latin America.
He had already spent some of those proceeds on yachts, girlfriends, sponsorship of a cricket tournament and other accoutrements of a high-rolling life.
Stanford denied committing fraud or running a Ponzi scheme and, in a statement that went on for 40 minutes, he blamed the US government for ruining a business he said had enough assets to repay its depositors. "They destroyed it and turned it to nothing," he said.
Stanford insisted: "I am not a thief."
Prosecutor William Stellmach told the judge: "This is a man utterly without remorse. He treated his victims like roadkill."
Attorneys who have followed the Stanford case said the judge was justified in handing him such a long sentence.
"The number can easily be justified by the size of the money involved in the fraud, the lack of remorse, no acceptance of responsibility, impact on the victims and financial institutions," said Wendell Odom, a Houston-based attorney. "But when you think about 110 years and know that is a life sentence, it is very sobering."
Philip Hilder, a former federal prosecutor and criminal defense attorney in Houston, said Hittner likely just followed the federal sentencing guidelines.
"While it is exorbitant, the judge sentenced to what the guidelines called for," Hilder said.
Defense attorney Ali Fazel told reporters he was worried the judge would give Stanford, 62, the full 230 years sought by prosecutors, but nonetheless described the sentence as harsh. "It will be tough on him," said Fazel, adding that the sentence would be appealed.
Stanford\'s attorneys had asked for a sentence of about three years, the same amount of time he has been in federal custody.
Stanford will remain in a federal detention center in Houston for the next 30 to 60 days while the Bureau of Prisons decides where he will serve his sentence.
Courtesy: Y Net News