Allen Stanford: Tales from Mexia

stanfordTrying to report the comprehensive story of Allen Stanford, the Texan billionaire that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has accused of perpetrating an $8 billion fraud, is like trying to reassemble 100 documents after they’ve been through the shredder.

Stanford’s business and sports interests and the subsequent investigations into them stretch across the ocean, through numerous government agencies and courts and into the lives of people in places big and small.

As usual, there was too much to fit into any one story.

Last week I flew from New York to Houston and drove about three hours north to Mexia, Texas the small town where Stanford grew up. I wrote about Mexia here, and about Stanford’s complicated personal ties — apparently he charmed women as well as investors and has left an angry trail of both, including an estranged wife, several girlfriends and six children with four women.

Here are some thoughts and notes from Mexia. First tip: if you pronounce the town’s name correctly (Muh-HAY-uh) you win points with the townspeople.

Stanford and Goswick

Stanford’s board included Chairman Emeritus James Stanford,  Allen Stanford’s father, who is 81 years old, and gets around with a walker. His office is a little white rancher on the side of the main road heading into town from the interstate. There’s a tiny hole in one of the windows that James’s wife and Allen’s stepmother Billie said came from a BB or pellet gun. No, it’s due to disgruntled investors, she said. It was more likely poor neighborhood kids playing with guns again.

Stanford whistleblowers tell of concerns, perks

For Mark Tidwell and Charles Rawl, former employees who filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Texas billionaire Allen Stanford’s financial empire, this week’s move by U.S. securities regulators to charge Stanford and two associates with “massive, ongoing fraud” brought a certain kind of redemption. But for the thousands of investors who now cannot tap into their accounwhistleblowersts until a court-appointed receiver sorts out claims, it could be a long wait.

Tidwell and Rawl both worked in Stanford’s posh Houston headquarters until December 2007, when they say they were forced to leave. In an interview with Reuters in Houston on Feb. 19. 2009, the two talked about their growing concerns while working at Stanford, as well as the silver-spooned culture that prevailed. Click here to hear audio

Mark Tidwell, 40, a former senior vice president at Stanford, recalls a plush dining room with a new menu every day, and perks aplenty for employees fortunate enough to make the “Top Producers Club.”