Tuesday 6 March 2012

Deadlocked Stanford Fraud Trial Jury Told to Keep Deliberating


The judge in R. Allen Stanford’s fraud trial ordered the jury to return to deliberations after the panel sent a note saying it couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in its fourth day of reviewing the evidence. The eight men and four women on the jury told U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston yesterday they were “unable to reach a verdict on each of the 14 counts,” the judge said, reading their note to attorneys for both sides. Enlarge image R. Allen Stanford, accused of leading a $7 billion investment fraud scheme, gestures as he exits the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston, Texas. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg Hittner instructed jurors to “continue your deliberations in this case,” telling them the trial has been costly in terms of both time and money, that the lawyers were unlikely going to be able to put on a better trial and that another jury was unlikely to be more conscientious. “It is your duty to agree upon a verdict if you can do so, without surrendering your conscientious opinion,’” Hittner told them. Stanford, 61, is accused of leading a $7 billion international fraud scheme involving the sale of certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua-based bank. He faces as long as 20 years in prison if found guilty of the most severe charges, mail fraud and wire fraud. The financier maintains he is not guilty. After the jury returned to deliberations, lead prosecutor Gregg Costa told the judge the jury’s note could be construed as meaning it couldn’t agree on any one of the 14 counts against Stanford or upon all of the counts. ‘We’ll See’ While acknowledging the possibility of having to accept a partial verdict, Hitter said, “We’ll see what comes out next.” When Hittner instructed the jurors to “take all the time you may feel necessary” to reach a verdict, one of the jurors grimaced. The jury left for the day yesterday after being told to resume deliberations. Jury selection in the case began Jan. 23 and the panel heard five weeks of evidence. The government presented testimony at from investors who bought the allegedly fraudulent CDs as well as from the executives who helped sell them. The witnesses included government officials and former Stanford Group Co. Chief Financial Officer James M. Davis, who pleaded guilty to fraud-related charges in 2009 and testified for five days against Stanford. Davis, whose relationship with Stanford traces back to when they were Baylor University roommates, told the jury he knew the boss was committing fraud and didn’t stop it. The defense presented former Stanford employees who said they saw no evidence of fraud at the company. Some offered testimony in support of the defense’s contention that Stanford was an absentee visionary who left the details of running his operation to Davis. Stanford didn’t testify during the trial.