Government's strong case led to Stanford conviction: jurors

HOUSTON Thu Mar 8, 2012 7:25pm EST

HOUSTON (Reuters) - The government's entire case against Allen Stanford was so strong it ultimately led to the conviction of the Texas financier who ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme from his offshore bank in Antigua, a juror and an alternate juror said on Thursday.

Stanford, 61, was convicted on 13 of 14 criminal counts on Tuesday by the jury of four women and eight men after a six week trial. In a separate proceeding that ended on Thursday, the jurors also determined that $330 million in foreign accounts linked to Stanford should be forfeited to investors who lost money in the scheme.

"We weighed all the evidence and justice prevailed," David Wright, a juror on the case who has worked as an accountant, told reporters outside the federal courthouse in Houston.

Prosecutors relied heavily on the testimony of James Davis, Stanford's former chief financial officer. Davis has pleaded guilty to three criminal counts in 2009. He admitted he had lied as he and Stanford orchestrated a 20-year fraud that mislead investors with false documents, phony financial statements and bribes to an Antiguan regulator and the firm's auditor.

Still, Davis' direct knowledge of the fraud was convincing.

"Even though he made a deal with the government, I believed his testimony," Bruce Forrest, an alternate juror who sat through all the testimony said.

On Monday, the jury sent word to U.S. District Judge David Hittner that they were unable to reach a verdict, but the judge ordered them to continue their deliberations.

They were only hung up on the second wire fraud count of the indictment, which involved Stanford sending Super Bowl tickets to Leroy King, the Antiguan regulator who was bribed to keep U.S. regulators at bay and to keep the Ponzi scheme a secret.

"We were only deadlocked on that one item," Wright told reporters.

The jury, which ultimately found Stanford not guilty on that wire fraud count, had questions about whether the tickets were allowed under Antiguan law. They also believed the gift of the Super Bowl tickets was not made in secret.

"It wasn't hidden," Wright said.

King is also charged in the Ponzi scheme and has yet to be extradited to the United States to answer the charges.

Both men who listened to all of the testimony were disappointed that Stanford himself did not take the stand as promised by Stanford's attorneys in opening arguments.

"It would have been nice if I had heard from him," alternate juror Forrest, said.

Still, Wright said Stanford's "ego was so big" that his testimony might have ended up hurting his defense.

Wright and Forrest expressed sympathy for the investors who lost billions in the fraud centered around the sale of certificates of deposit issued by Stanford International Bank Ltd, the offshore bank in Antigua.

Forrest, an optician from Pasadena, Texas, said he wants Stanford to receive a maximum sentence, which would be more than 200 years in prison if the sentences were consecutive.

"I hope Mr. Stanford never sees the light of day," Forrest said.

(Reporting By Anna Driver; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)

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