‘Sir Allen’ in court in shackles, spine straight

June 20, 2009

get_thumbnailThe Texas billionaire had a slightly awkward gait when he arrived in the Richmond, Virginia, courtroom.

It seemed a bit out of place with his tall, straight posture, until he sat down at the table and the shackles around his ankles were revealed.

For Allen Stanford, who stands accused of an elaborate $7 billion pyramid scheme to defraud investors, it was the first court proceeding that he had to face since a criminal indictment was returned a day earlier.

He sat spine straight, elbows on the table, chin on clasped hands, sometimes biting a knuckle or forming a steeple with index fingers, as prosecutors and defense attorneys argued whether he was a flight risk.

Wearing an open collared white shirt and dark pants, Stanford, who has salt and pepper hair and a mustache, politely said “yes ma’am” when asked questions by the judge.

His attorney argued that Stanford was not a flight risk because the government has known where to find him all along — at the home of his fiancee in Virginia.

“He takes the train up to D.C. every day” to meet with lawyers, voluntary surrendered his passport, and all of his assets are frozen, one of his attorneys said. “He has no money.”

Prosecutors of course painted an entirely different picture, calling Stanford “the mastermind” and primary beneficiary of a scheme to defraud others.

 “We were not certain where the defendant was until we found him last night,” said a prosecutor, who noted that about $1 billion remained unaccounted for and Stanford had “strong ties” to Antigua and no spouse in the United States.

The judge sided with the prosecution and ordered a detention hearing but gave Stanford the choice of location: Virginia or Texas.

The Texas billionaire picked his home state.

Photo credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper (Texan billionaire Allen Stanford speaks during an interview in Miami on May 1, 2008)

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