Stanford Fires Another Attorney in Fraud Case

Accused fraudster Allen Stanford has gone through yet another defense attorney.

Houston attorney Michael Essmeyer, who just last month was named lead counsel for Stanford, has asked to be removed from the case after he says Stanford fired him.

Allen Stanford
Allen Stanford

In court papers, Essmeyer says he also developed irreconcilable differences with his co-counsel in the case, Houston attorney Robert Bennett, who Essmeyer says has been acting independently and without his consent, even though Essmeyer is officially lead counsel.

If the judge in the case approves the change—and it is not clear he will—it will be the latest in a dizzying series of changes in Stanford's legal team.

He was initially represented by Houston defense lawyer Dick DeGuerin, but DeGuerin quit one month after Stanford was indicted in June, 2009. Washington, DC, attorney Robert Luskin then sought to represent Stanford, but declined to sign on when it became unclear he would be paid.

Houston attorneys Kent Schaffer and George McCall Secrest then took on the case, but pulled out earlier this year. In approving Essmeyer and Bennett as attorneys in April, U.S. District Judge David Hittner insisted the two take the case unconditionally, and demanded assurances that the change would not delay Stanford's January 2011 trial.

Stanford is being held without bail on 21 criminal counts alleging he ran a $7 billion Ponzi scheme.