Somewhere Charles Ponzi may have a smile on his face. Nearly 100 years after the Italian con man became infamous for his scheme to bilk investors by repaying them with the funds from later victims, U.S. District Judge David Hittner came down hard on Ponzi disciple R. Allen Stanford.
Stanford, the former billionaire who once reigned over a vast financial empire, was sentenced to 110 years in prison yesterday for running a Ponzi scheme that swindled investors out of more than $7 billion over 20 years.
In March, a federal jury convicted Stanford of running an international scheme in which he offered fraudulent high-interest certificates of deposit at the Stanford International Bank, which was based on the Caribbean island of Antigua. According to prosecutors, Stanford lied to investors, assuring them safe investments for their money, which he funneled into his jet-setting lifestyle, a Swiss bank account and a slew of failed business deals.
The sentence was a happy medium between the prosecutors’ request for 230 years in prison—the maximum sentence possible after Stanford was convicted on 13 of 14 counts of conspiracy, wire and mail fraud after a seven-week trial. The defense had requested a maximum sentence of 44 months, which Stanford would have completed in about eight months. He has been behind bars since his arrest in June 2009.
For his part, Stanford still asserts that he has done nothing wrong.
In a 40-minute monologue to the court during which he reportedly held back tears, Stanford said that he was a victim of government “Gestapo tactics” that targeted his Caribbean bank and forced him to sell off his assets at greatly reduced prices. Additionally, he said that anyone who lost money was a result of the government’s unnecessary actions.
“I’m not up here to ask for sympathy or forgiveness,” Stanford said, the New York Times reported. “I’m up here to tell you from my heart I didn’t run a Ponzi scheme.”
Conversely, federal prosecutor William Stellmach had an understandably different take on the events.
“This is a man utterly without remorse,” Stellmach said, according to the Times. “From beginning to end, he treated all of his victims as roadkill.”
And for other InsideCounsel coverage on Stanford, read: