Fair sentence: Stanford's $7 billion fraud costs his freedom
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It didn't take long for a federal jury to convict R. Allen Stanford of 13 counts of fraud in a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. Last week, the 62-year-old Texas financier was sentenced to 110 years in prison for a two-decade con that netted 30,000 victims in 113 countries.
Even while being sentenced, Mr. Stanford maintained his innocence. He insisted that "in his heart" he did not author, control or profit from a Ponzi scheme. He's entitled to his opinion, of course, but the federal jury has spoken and a judge gave him a sentence to match the scale of his crimes.
Prosecutors recommended 230 years for a man they described as "utterly without remorse," so Mr. Stanford can take some solace in the fact that he got roughly half that time. On a practical level, he has been given a life term and will probably die in prison.
The con man, who once had an estimated net worth of $2 billion, shook during sentencing but failed to take full responsibility for the financial devastation he wrought. He was convicted largely on the testimony of a former business partner who was able to show how Mr. Stanford's Antigua-based financial empire was built on fraud, bribes and deceit.
In an era when financial chicanery on a massive scale sometimes appears to be only grudgingly prosecuted, the image of a white-collar defendant who isn't Bernie Madoff going to jail for a long stretch is unusual. And a relief.
Some will argue that a 110-year sentence is excessive, even for a Ponzi-made billionaire. Tell that to the ordinary criminals serving life terms for stealing a fraction of what Mr. Stanford tried to get away with.
His sentencing, stiff as it is, won't make up for all of the sins of the con artists who cruise the financial sector, but it is a step in the right direction.
First Published June 19, 2012 12:00 am