Allen Stanford Sentenced to 110 Years in Prison

     HOUSTON (CN) - Allen Stanford was sentenced Thursday to 110 years in federal prison for running a $7 billion investment fraud - though the disgraced Ponzi schemer insisted at this sentencing that he "didn't defraud anybody."
     A federal jury convicted Stanford on March 6 of 13 of 14 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud and mail fraud, after a seven-week trial.
     The jury also ordered Stanford to forfeit nearly $330 million in stolen money from his bank accounts in England, Switzerland and Canada.
     U.S. District Judge David Hittner called Stanford's scheme "one of the most egregious frauds ever presented to a trial jury in federal court."
     Angie Shaw, founder of the Stanford Victims Coalition, whose family lost $4.5 million in the fraud, spoke for victims at the sentencing hearing.
     "This was not a bloodless financial crime carried out on paper," Shaw said. "It was and is an inconceivably heinous crime and it has taken a staggering toll on the victims.
     "Innocent investors from around the world sacrificed and saved for decades to build a solid foundation for their futures.
     "That foundation crumbled beneath them when the news of the Stanford Financial Group Ponzi scheme became public. Many of the victims had lived the proverbial American Dream only to have it snatched away from them in the name of greed."
     Stanford, 62, spoke at the hearing and denied any wrongdoing.
     "I am and will always be at peace with the way I conducted myself in business," Stanford said before being sentenced to more than a century behind bars.
     "I did not run a Ponzi scheme. I didn't defraud anybody," Stanford said.
     Judge Hittner also imposed a personal money forfeiture of $5.9 billion against Stanford.
     All the forfeited money recovered by the United States will be returned to the fraud victims, though the process could take years.
     The SEC in February 2009 charged Stanford and three of his companies with orchestrating the multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme, defrauding nearly 30,000 investors from 113 countries.
     The SEC froze his companies' assets and appointed a receiver to recover assets for investors.
     The SEC claimed that Stanford's Antigua-based bank Stanford International pulled off the fraud by selling certificates of deposit with unsubstantiated high interest rates. These rates were allegedly earned through Stanford International Banks' unique investment strategy, which supposedly allowed the bank to achieve double-digit returns on its investments for 15 years.
     The government also accused Stanford of diverting $1.6 billion from the CDs into personal loans.
     Stanford's sentence rivals Bernard Madoff's 150-year sentence for his $70 billion Ponzi scheme.
     Stanford has been jailed since June 17, 2009, when he turned himself in to the FBI in Houston, hours after a grand jury returned a sealed indictment.
     In addition to Stanford, a grand jury indicted James Davis, Stanford Financial's former chief financial officer.
     He testified against Stanford, and faces up to 30 years in prison under a plea deal.
     Stanford Financial's former chief financial officer Laura Pendergest-Holt, its former chief accountant Gil Lopez, and former controller Mark Kuhrt are scheduled for trial in September.