(Bloomberg News) R. Allen Stanford, found guilty of leading a $7 billion international fraud by a U.S. jury, was sentenced to 110 years in prison after a prosecutor said he treated his victims like "road kill."
U.S. District Judge David Hittner imposed the sentence today in Houston, also ordering Stanford to forfeit $5.9 billion. Jurors in March convicted the Stanford Financial Group principal of 13 charges, including five counts of mail fraud and four of wire fraud.
The jury found that Stanford, 62, lied to buyers of certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. and sold in the U.S. by his Houston- based securities firm. Prosecutors said Stanford wasted investor money on failing businesses, yachts and cricket tournaments and secretly borrowed as much as $2 billion from his bank.
"From beginning to end, he's treated his victims like road kill," Assistant U.S. Attorney William Stellmach told the judge today before a courtroom packed with Stanford's victims. "Allen Stanford doesn't deserve anyone's sympathy and he doesn't deserve your honor's mercy."
Stanford, whose sentence is 40 years shorter than the prison term meted out to Bernard Madoff in 2009, defended himself to the end.'Not a Thief'
"I've been called a lot of things -- arrogant, abrasive, a son of a gun, difficult, very opinionated and strong-willed. But I am not a thief," Stanford, dressed in a green prison garb, told the judge today. "I never planned to, never did, either corporately or personally, defraud anyone and never set out to do that."
Prosecutors had asked for a 230-year term, the maximum under federal sentencing guidelines. Ali Fazel, one of Stanford's lawyers, requested a 10-year term for his client.
"Thirty years and 110 years are effectively the same sentence," Doug Burns, a former prosecutor, said in an interview after the sentencing. "The judge obviously felt a very high sentence was necessary."
Stanford, who was ranked 205 on Forbes magazine's 2008 list of the richest Americans, with a net worth of $2.2 billion, has been jailed since being indicted in June 2009 after prosecutors said he might try to flee.Finance Chief
Jurors rejected defense claims that investors received adequate disclosures of how their money was being spent and that any wrongdoing was the fault of finance chief James Davis, who pleaded guilty to fraud and testified against Stanford.
More than 300 victims' letters were received by the court. Houston investor Cassie Wilkinson, 62, who said she lost about $500,000 to Stanford, was on hand for the sentencing.
"It was economic homicide," she said before the hearing. "For those who lost everything, their lives as they knew it are gone, especially for the older ones."
The case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).