Fresno, CA – A couple of years ago, Bernie Madoff was in the news for having committed the biggest Ponzi scheme in U.S. history and you would think people will learn or have already learned their lesson and are more cautious in investing their money but NO; turns out there are still a lot of people who are gullible from felons who offer them these kinds of scheme.
Thursday, June 14, R. Allen Stanford was sentenced to 110 years behind bars for orchestrating a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Victims like Jaime Escalona testified that he became of impoverished because of Stanford that he was no longer able to pay for the medical treatments of his autistic grandson. Another victim, Angela Shaw Kogutt and her family was victimized for $4 million.
The judge then advised all of the victims to stand in front of Stanford. No emotion was reflected on Stanford’s face when faced the people that he had conned. But he did break his silence after refusing to testify on his trial and stated that he is not a thief.
R. Allen Stanford claimed that he fell prey to the “Gestapo tactics” of the government. According to him the government seized his assets from his Caribbean bank and liquidated them at bargain basement prices. He blamed the government for losing his investors’ money.
He further stated, “I’m not here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness, I’m up here to tell you from my heart I didn’t run a Ponzi scheme.” He then went through some papers and fought his emotions.
The federal jury found R. Allen Stanford guilty of offering fake high interest certificates that were channeled through a bank he owned in Antigua, the Stanford International Bank. He had conned his investors into believing that their investments were safe and offered big returns on their investment but instead the money was diverted to his Swiss bank account, went into business that bombed and supported his over the top lifestyle.
The initial sentence that the prosecutors wanted was 230 years but the judge only approved of 110, possibly thinking that since Stanford is already 62, he won’t be able to live long enough to consume all those jail years.
It is ironic that three years ago, he was estimated to be worth $2 billion, had his own private jets, collection of yachts, a cricket stadium in the West Indies plus he also owned a cricket team and now he is just a common thief being judged. A man who started out as an owner of a fitness club in Texas, he had gone into offshore banking when the fitness club went bankrupt and then the money just started pouring in.
His lawyer, Ali R. Fazel argued that his client actually invested the money he received unlike Bernie Madoff who just sweet talked people into investing. He further stated that all of Stanford’s clients were paid on time before the Securities and Exchange Commission accused Stanford of funneling the money into his personal account. According to Atty. Fazel, the SEC ruined the reputation of his client that his business got affected.
Karma can really nip a person in the bud as to what had happened to Stanford. In 2010, he was severely beaten by another inmate and after extensive surgery, he became addicted to anti-stress drugs. Maybe this is payback for all those people who lost their homes to foreclosure, filed for bankruptcy, and were even suicidal after they have lost everything because of a bad investment.
Unfortunately, Stanford is just one of the thousands of scammers who roam our planet. People believe them because they dress fine, talk sweet and oozing with cash. People tend to forget that all that glitters isn’t gold. It is not the panhandler on the street that might dupe you of your life savings, it might actually be the fancy stockbroker from Wall Street.