Alleged Ponzi scheme master mind Sir Allen Stanford is incompetent to stand trial on claims that he led a $7 billion fraud, a U.S. judge in Texas ruled on Wednesday.
Stanford pleaded not guilty and was scheduled to begin Jan. 24, but his lawyers asked for a court hearing to prove his incompetency and inability to assist in his own defense. Uncertainty about his mental condition means his trial will be postponed while he gets treatment.
Stanford was indicted in 2009 on 21 counts of securities fraud and money laundering. U.S. prosecutors accuse him of creating false accounting records, lying to investors and bribing a regulatory official in Antigua. It is estimated that about $1 billion was invested in Stanford's so-called CDs in Louisiana.
“The court finds Stanford is incompetent to stand trial at this time based on his apparent impaired ability to rationally assist his attorneys in preparing his defense,” Judge David Hittner wrote in his ruling in Houston, Texas. “The court’s finding that Stanford is incompetent, however, does not alter the court’s finding that Stanford is a flight risk and that no combination of conditions of pretrial release can reasonably assure his appearance at trial,” he added.
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