HOUSTON — Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s attorneys said Tuesday that jail has reduced their client to a “wreck of a man” who is severely depressed, forgets conversations, can no longer see out of one eye and believes he is “losing his mind.”
The description of Stanford’s mental and physical condition was contained in a motion filed by his attorneys asking a federal judge, for a third time, to grant the jailed financier a bond so he can be free while awaiting his trial. Stanford is due to go on trial in January on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive Ponzi scheme.
The latest motion was prepared with the help of Harvard law professor and celebrity defense lawyer Alan Dershowitz, a consultant hired by Stanford.
U.S. District Judge David Hittner in Houston has denied two previous requests to grant Stanford a bond, agreeing with federal prosecutors that he is a serious flight risk. An appeals court has upheld Hittner’s rulings.
Hittner did not rule on the merits of the motion. But late Tuesday, the judge removed the motion from the record for not following court rules, including being typed in 14 point font and being double spaced, meaning it will have to be resubmitted.
In the 36-page motion, Robert Bennett, one of Stanford’s attorneys, described the financier as a healthy individual when he surrendered to authorities on June 18, 2009, the day he was indicted.
“Now, nearly one year in detention later, Mr. Stanford’s incarceration has reduced him to a wreck of a man,” Bennett wrote. “Mr. Stanford has experienced … a precipitate, severe and ongoing deterioration of his mental and emotional health caused by the conditions of his confinement.”
Bennett said Stanford can no longer see out of his right eye or feel anything on the right side of his face after he was beaten by an inmate last year.
He said Stanford is in the “throes of a major depression” which is getting worse. Bennett said Stanford falls into “mental black holes,” forgets conversations and stares blankly into space when talking to his attorneys, has an uncontrolled tremor in his left hand and seems to be in a drug-induced stupor due to antidepressants and other medications he is taking.
In an affidavit accompanying the motion, Evelyn Saravia, one of Stanford’s friends and a legal assistant helping him on his case, said the financier before his arrest was a “sharp and intelligent” individual who was well-groomed, health conscious and full of energy. Stanford’s worth had been estimated at more than $2 billion.
But Saravia said Stanford is now “depressed, tired and appears medicated” and confided in her that he sometimes feels he is “losing his mind.”
Bennett said Stanford’s deteriorating health is preventing him from fully assisting his attorneys in preparing for trial.
The attorney also criticized the conditions at the Federal Detention Center in Houston, where Stanford is being held. Bennett said the financier can only review a portion of the millions of documents in his case because he doesn’t have Internet access and he is only allowed to keep a limited number of documents in his cell.
A spokeswoman with the Federal Bureau of Prisons, which runs the detention center, declined to comment on Stanford’s motion, as did a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice.
In the motion, Bennett said Stanford’s constitutional rights are being violated as his continued detention is excessive and simply punishment and is preventing him from assisting in his defense.
Stanford and three executives of his now defunct Houston-based Stanford Financial Group are accused of orchestrating a colossal pyramid scheme by advising clients to invest more than $7 billion in certificates of deposit from the Stanford International Bank in the Caribbean island of Antigua and then misusing the money, in part to pay for Stanford’s lavish lifestyle.
Stanford and the executives have pleaded not guilty to various charges, including money laundering, wire and mail fraud, in a 21-count indictment.