HOUSTON – Former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford, whose financial empire once spanned the Americas and made him fabulously wealthy, was convicted Tuesday of bilking his investors out of more than $7 billion through a Ponzi scheme he operated for 20 years.
A day after telling U.S. District Judge David Hittner they were having trouble reaching a verdict, jurors convicted Stanford on 13 of 14 charges he faced, acquitting him on a single count of wire fraud stemming from Super Bowl tickets he allegedly used to bribe a regulator.
“We are disappointed in the outcome. We expect to appeal,” Ali Fazel, one of Stanford’s attorneys, said after the hearing.
A shorter civil trial before the same jury, in which prosecutors hoped to seize money from more than 30 Stanford-controlled accounts in countries including Switzerland and Canada, began later Tuesday. Hittner will likely set Stanford’s sentencing date after the civil trial, which could last as little as a day.
Stanford, 61, faces up to 20 years for the most serious charges against him. But if Hittner orders him to serve his sentences consecutively, Stanford could get up to 230 years in prison. Disgraced financier Bernard Madoff, by comparison, was sentenced to 150 years in prison for orchestrating the largest Ponzi scheme in history.