Allen Stanford on anti-anxiety drug: lawyer

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Accused swindler Allen Stanford turned to alcohol to deal with the stress of being accused of massive fraud by the U.S. government, but is now taking an anti-anxiety medication that “has proven beneficial,” his attorney said in a court filing.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission accused the Texas financier in February of massive fraud connected to certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua bank, and a Houston grand jury indicted him last week on 21 counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice.

After the SEC filed its lawsuit, “Allen Stanford began drinking more heavily to self-medicate his depression and anxiety,” his criminal attorney, Dick DeGuerin, said in a court filing.

The once high-flying golf and cricket promoter sought medical attention and was prescribed Ativan, an anti-anxiety drug.

“The medication has proven beneficial,” DeGuerin wrote. “Since he began taking Ativan to appropriately manage his anxiety, Allen Stanford has not relied on alcohol to self-medicate.”

Stanford says he is innocent of the charges and that his multinational business was legitimate until the SEC “disemboweled” it by filing charges, which led to the confiscation of all his assets by a court-appointed receiver.

When the FBI arrested Stanford at his girlfriend’s house in Virginia on June 18, he “was responsive to federal agents and calmly complied with their instructions,” DeGuerin said in the filing, which made the case for his client to be released on bail pending a trial.

A U.S. magistrate in Houston is expected to decide on Thursday whether Stanford must remain behind bars while he awaits trial.

According to DeGuerin, Stanford “has exhibited strong character and solid work ethic over the course of his lifetime,” and performed charitable works, including volunteering to clean up a nursing home in Antigua.

As further evidence of Stanford’s good character, DeGuerin said his client has “solid relationships” with his six children and “maintains amicable relationships with his children’s mothers.”

Stanford’s estranged wife, Susan Stanford, sued for divorce in November 2007 after 32 years of marriage and has sought to intervene in the civil case against him, claiming that she has a right to half his property.

Editing by Lisa Von Ahn