Stanford defense rests without calling Stanford

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 27, 2012 5:23 PM
Stanford defense rests without calling Stanford

By Anna Driver

HOUSTON (Reuters) - Texas financier Allen Stanford's defense team rested its case in his criminal fraud trial on Monday without calling their client to testify.

"Your honor, the defense rests," Stanford lawyer Robert Scardino said.

Stanford, 61, is accused of bilking investors from more than 100 countries by selling fraudulent certificates of deposit from Stanford International Bank in Antigua, and then using those deposits to finance his own lifestyle.

The trial began on January 23 in federal court in Houston. Prosecutors presented a series of witnesses, including former chief financial officer James Davis, who said that Stanford was deeply involved in running the bank. In their defense, Stanford's attorneys have sought to portray their client as aloof from day-to-day decisions, blaming Davis, who has pleaded guilty to fraud, and others for any wrongdoing.

Whether Stanford would actually testify in his own defense had been a big question hanging over the trial. His lawyers said at the beginning of the trial that Stanford wanted to tell his side of the story.

But criminal defense attorneys said that letting a defendant testify is very risky because it puts their credibility with the jury on the line and it leaves them open to tough questions from prosecutors.

It could also have put Stanford's reputation for having a fiery temper to the test. Throughout the trial, former employees testified about their boss being very quick to anger.

The case is USA v. Stanford et al, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, No. 09r-00342.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston; Editing by Eddie Evans and Matthew Lewis)