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Allen Stanford Too Drugged for Trial, Lawyer Says

Indicted Financier R. Allen Stanford
Indicted financier R. Allen Stanford arrives at the Bob Casey Federal Courthouse in Houston in August. Photographer: F. Carter Smith/Bloomberg

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Jailed financier R. Allen Stanford is too heavily medicated to prepare for or testify at his January trial on charges he led a $7 billion investment fraud, his lawyer claimed in a bid for bail.

Stanford, 60, has been held as a flight risk in a Houston federal lockup since June 2009, when he was charged in an indictment with selling bogus certificates of deposit at his Antigua-based Stanford International Bank Ltd.

“Mr. Stanford’s mental, emotional and physical health are drastically deteriorating,’’ Ali Fazel, the financier’s co-lead lawyer, said yesterday in papers in federal court in Houston seeking Stanford’s release. “These medications have left Mr. Stanford in an unfocused and numbed state of mind’’ and have “created a condition where the accused can no longer assist counsel or invoke basic constitutional rights.’’

Before his arrest, Stanford wasn’t taking any prescription medications, the lawyer said. “Currently, due to his incarceration,” Stanford is prescribed “a variety of medications,’’ he said.

Fazel said Stanford’s medications cause “tremors of the limbs, diminished range of facial expression, slowness of speech, drowsiness and fatigue.’’ The lawyer claims such symptoms prevent Stanford from adequately reviewing documents and helping in trial preparation. They may keep him from testifying or participating at the trial, the attorney said.

Impact on Jury

“At all stages of the proceedings, the accused’s behavior, manner, facial expressions and emotional responses, or their absence, combine to make an overall impression’’ on jurors, Fazel said, “an impression that can have a powerful influence on the outcome of the trial.’’

Fazel in an interview declined to comment on Stanford’s medications or condition, citing his client’s privacy and a court order against attorneys’ public discussion of the case.

The types and dosage of medications Stanford is receiving in prison were described in a sealed list submitted to U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who has three times denied Stanford’s requests to be released on bail. The trial is to begin Jan. 24.

In September 2009, Stanford was beaten by another prisoner, leaving him with broken facial bones and lingering numbness and disorientation, according to his lawyers’ previous statements. In earlier court filings, Stanford was described as severely depressed and occasionally confused in dealings with lawyers.

Wrongdoing Denied

Stanford has denied any wrongdoing in connection with allegations he ran a Ponzi scheme that took funds from later investors to pay above-market returns to earlier buyers of certificates of deposit issued by his Caribbean bank.

In addition to 21 criminal counts, Stanford faces parallel civil fraud accusations by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Fazel and his partner, Robert Scardino, both of Houston, were appointed Stanford’s lawyers in October after the financier lost a lawsuit over access to $100 million in legal defense insurance funds.

The criminal case is U.S. v. Stanford, 09-cr-342, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Houston). The SEC case is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stanford International Bank, 09-cv-298, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).

To contact the reporter on this story: Laurel Brubaker Calkins in Houston at laurel@calkins.us.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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