Billionaire Allen Stanford hires civil lawyer

HOUSTON Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:29pm EDT

Texan billionaire Allen Stanford talks during an interview in Miami in this May 1, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Texan billionaire Allen Stanford talks during an interview in Miami in this May 1, 2008 file photo.

Credit: Reuters/Joe Skipper

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HOUSTON (Reuters) - Allen Stanford, who is accused of an $8 billion fraud by U.S. regulators and had been representing himself in court matters, has hired a civil attorney in Houston, a court filing showed on Tuesday.

Jacks "J.C." Nickens, from the firm of Nickens, Keeton, Lawless, Farrell & Flack LLP, filed the papers in U.S. District Court in Dallas.

Nickens' firm successfully defended Charles Hurwitz, the embattled chairman of the Maxxam conglomerate, dubbed "Chainsaw Charlie" by environmentalists, in a 10-year legal battle with federal bank regulators after the failure of a Houston savings and loan.

Stanford, two of his top aides and three of his companies are accused by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission of a massive Ponzi scheme involving high-yield certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua bank.

Nickens could not immediately be reached for comment.

Stanford, who has had his assets frozen by a court appointed receiver, previously told the court he could not afford an attorney.

Stanford, a flamboyant sports patron who owns jets, yachts and luxury homes in Texas and the Caribbean, is also in talks with noted criminal attorney Dick DeGuerin.

Stanford said in a recent interview with ABC News that he did not run a Ponzi scheme but expected to soon be indicted on criminal charges.

In a Ponzi scheme, later investors are paid with funds from earlier investors.

(Additional reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; editing by Richard Chang, Bernard Orr)

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