A federal magistrate in Houston has agreed to release indicted billionaire Allen Stanford on bond, but the release has been delayed while prosecutors appeal the ruling.
After a day long hearing, Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy noted that Stanford was a flight risk, but that his appearance at trial could be ensured by a $2 million bond, $100,000 of it in cash.
Stanford would also be required to submit to electronic monitoring, and not leave his Houston home except for court appearances, employment, religious services, and to meet with his attorneys in Houston, Dallas and Washington.
The release has been delayed, however, while prosecutors appeal the ruling to U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who is slated to preside over Stanford's eventual trial. Magistrate Stacy agreed to delay Stanford's release, but only until 5:30pm E.T. Friday.
Stanford remains in custody, and is en route back to a federal detention center approximately 40 miles north of Houston. He will be brought back to the courthouse in downtown Houston Friday to be processed for release — depending on what Judge Hittner decides. Hittner has a reputation as a pro-prosecution judge, and a flair for the dramatic.
Hittner made national headlines in 2004 at the height of the Enron scandal, when he refused to accept a plea bargain between the government and Lea Fastow, the wife of Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow, because Hittner said the deal was too lenient.
The case, which was initially tangential in the broader Enron prosecution, briefly took center stage, with Hittner insisting on taking it to trial — until an agreement was reached at the last minute that the judge could accept. If Hittner overturns the Stanford bail decision, Stanford's attorneys could still appeal to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. But all the while, Allen Stanford would remain in custody.
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Four people are signing for the $2 million bond — Stanford himself, his father, and two friends. Each is putting up $500,000. Professional golfer Vijay Singh, whom Stanford sponsors, had originally offered to put up $500,000, but he could not do so because he is not a U.S. citizen.