Victim: Ponzi Schemer Stanford Destroyed Families

fromKUHF

Texas financier R. Allen Stanford received a 110 year sentence in prison on Thursday. He bilked investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years in what was one of the largest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

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To Houston now, where a federal judge has sentenced a Texas financier to 110 years in prison. R. Allen Stanford was convicted back in March of running a worldwide Ponzi scheme. Jurors found he bilked investors of more than $7 billion. Andrew Schneider, of member station KUHF, is covering Stanford's trial.

ANDREW SCHNEIDER, BYLINE: Just before sentencing, Judge David Hittner said Stanford extracted the money from investors, to fund his own private business empire and an extraordinarily lavish lifestyle - private jets, yachts, and a professional cricket tournament in Antigua.

During court today, Stanford broke his long silence with a rambling statement. He denied he had committed any crime, and he insisted he would have been able to pay off his thousands of investors had the government not seized his companies and shut them down. Ali Fazel is one of Stanford's attorneys.

ALI FAZEL: We thought that we had filed enough motions and documents that illustrate why this wasn't a Ponzi scheme. We still don't think it's a Ponzi scheme. But the judge ruled, and that's what it is. We filed a notice of appeal, and I think there's a lot of issues to be appealed.

SCHNEIDER: Martha Blanchett was a former Stanford investor present at the sentencing.

MARTHA BLANCHETT: He was arrogant, denying everything because he lost - what, his lifestyle? That's what he lost. And we lost more than money. He doesn't deserve anything - mercy, compassion, nothing.

SCHNEIDER: There were at least 100 other Stanford victims who packed the galleries for the sentencing. Representatives of two groups of Stanford's victims addressed the judge. Jaime Escalona spoke for the Coalition of Latin American Victims of Stanford. He said more than 60 percent of Stanford's victims came from Latin America. Many of them purchased CDs in Stanford's bank to cover not just retirement, but to pay for basic medical care.

JAIME ESCALONA: A lot of people, a lot of families have been destroyed totally in - with this crisis. And we didn't see any economic relief for the victims that have been affected. And many of them, they are dying, desperate, alone.

SCHNEIDER: A U.S.-appointed receiver and a liquidator appointed by Antigua, where Stanford's bank was headquartered, are battling over the remnants of Stanford's global assets. Under the terms of R. Allen Stanford's 110-year sentence, he is not eligible for parole.

For NPR News, I'm Andrew Schneider in Houston.

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