(Bloomberg News) R. Allen Stanford, the onetime Caribbean banking tycoon found guilty of helming a $7 billion investment fraud, was brought down by his own arrogance and greed, jurors said.
Billie Wade, 69, a retired hairdresser who described herself during jury selection in Houston federal court as "the dumbest person in this room," said Stanford's attitude made the biggest impression on her, more than any evidence or testimony.
"His arrogance, every day," she said yesterday after the jury decided that Stanford, 61, must forfeit $330 million in assets in 29 bank accounts seized by the government. The same jury of eight men and four women returned guilty verdicts March 6 on 13 of 14 criminal counts against Stanford.
Stanford was found guilty of lying to investors about the nature and oversight of certificates of deposit issued by Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd. and sold in the U.S. by his Houston-based securities firm, Stanford Group Co.
After a six-week trial, the jury convicted him on four counts of wire fraud and five counts of mail fraud, each of which carries a top sentence of 20 years in prison. He was also convicted of conspiracy and obstructing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe. He was found not guilty of one wire fraud count. U.S. District Judge David Hittner set June 14 for sentencing. Stanford remains in custody.
"The jury returned unanimous verdicts and we think they speak for themselves," John Wojciak, the jury foreman, said yesterday after the forfeiture trial. Jurors examined 10 to 12 boxes of evidence, said Wojciak, an environmental engineer. He refused to answer questions from reporters.
Bruce Forrest, a 47-year-old alternate juror, was dismissed before deliberations began and returned to the courthouse yesterday to meet with the other jurors and the judge. Forrest, an optician, said prosecutors presented "overwhelming evidence" of Stanford's guilt.
James Davis, Stanford's former finance chief, was the most compelling witness, Forrest said. Davis, who pleaded guilty and entered into a cooperation agreement with the U.S. in 2009, testified for five days against Stanford. Forrest said he believed Davis, "even though he made that deal with the government."
Forrest also recalled testimony from Sohil Merchant, Stanford's information technology chief, who testified to having to repeatedly fly in laptops to replace ones the financier had smashed against walls or dropped into water.
"There's an arrogance that goes with that," Forrest said. "And to find out he used other people's money in order to accomplish all this -- along with arrogance comes greed."