(Bloomberg News) R. Allen Stanford, accused of running a $7 billion investment fraud, asked for a three-month delay in his trial set for Jan. 23 after his expert witnesses quit over not being paid, according to court filings.
Stanford's experts haven't been paid for four months, Ali Fazel, Stanford's lead criminal-defense lawyer, said in court papers filed Dec. 30 in federal court in Houston. They quit last week after the U.S. Court of Appeals, which controls budgets for Stanford's publicly funded defense, ruled that it will "modify and limit the expert budget moving forward" and withhold payments to them until after the trial, Fazel said.
Stanford, 61, has been in custody since he was indicted in June 2009 on charges of defrauding investors through bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank.
Stanford was declared mentally fit for trial on Dec. 22, after completing eight months of rehabilitation at a federal prison hospital in Butner, North Carolina. U.S. District Judge David Hittner found the former financier had sufficiently recovered from head injuries suffered in a September 2009 jailhouse assault and an addiction to anxiety drugs prescribed by prison doctors following the attack.
Fazel said in the Dec. 30 filings that prosecutors don't oppose a one-week delay in tomorrow's deadline for filing expert reports in the case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Costa told Hittner last month that the government doesn't oppose a delay of six to eight weeks in Stanford's trial to give him more time to review documents with his attorneys.
Laura Sweeney, a Justice Department spokeswoman, declined to comment today on the request for a three-month delay, citing a gag order issued by the judge.
The case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-00342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston).