Prosecutors To Appeal Stanford's Release On Bond

The Texas billionaire charged with running an elaborate Ponzi scheme has pleaded not guilty. Federal prosecutors say Allen Stanford bilked investors out of $7 billion. A federal magistrate in Houston set bond at $500,000, but Stanford is still being held while prosecutors appeal his release on bail.

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RENEE MONTAGNE, host:

And in a federal court yesterday, Texas financier Allen Stanford pleaded not guilty to charges that he bilked investors out of $7 billion. The federal magistrate set his bond at $500,000. But he is still being held while prosecutors appeal his release on bail.

NPR's Wade Goodwyn reports.

WADE GOODWYN: Allen Stanford was brought to the federal courthouse in handcuffs and orange clothing, a stunning fall from grace reminiscent of another titan of the Houston business community: Enron CEO Kenneth Lay. While not the Fortune 500 powerhouse that Enron once was, the Stanford Financial Group had carved out a proud place in Houston, Antigua and parts of South America. Three other Stanford executives also pleaded not guilty.

Allen Stanford has been charged with 21 counts of fraud, conspiracy and obstruction of justice and faces life in prison if convicted. In court, a bank examiner testified that more than a billion dollars was unaccounted for. Prosecutors argue that Stanford was a flight risk who could possibly access millions of dollars to flee the country. Stanford's attorney Dick DeGuerin argued that Stanford hadn't tried to flee the country, even though he's known for weeks that an indictment was pending.

The lawyer pointed out that the complex case could take months to prepare and that it wouldn't be fair if Stanford was incarcerated and unable to meaningfully assist. In Antigua, Leroy King, that country's former chief financial regulator, surrendered to face charges that he was an integral part of the scheme. He's alleged to have accepted $100,000 in bribes to look the other way.

Wade Goodwyn, NPR News, Dallas.

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