Accused Ponzi schemer Allen Stanford has been reduced to "a wreck of a man" after nearly a year behind bars, according to the latest motion to get him freed on bail.
Stanford, 60, is accused of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. He has been in custody since his indictment last June, after a judge ruled he is a flight risk. A federal appeals court has twice upheld that ruling.
The latest motion, crafted with the help of legal scholars Alan Dershowitz and Martin Weinberg, argues Stanford's detention is unconstitutional, violating his rights to due process, a speedy trial, effective assistance of counsel, and the Constitutional prohibition against excessive bail. More to the point, the motion argues, Stanford's physical and mental health have been devastated.
"Mr. Stanford's pretrial incarceration has reduced him to a wreck of man," the filing says. "(H)e has suffered potentially life-impairing illnesses; he has been so savagely beaten that he has lost all feeling in the right side of his face and has lost near field vision in his right eye."
The filing includes multiple affidavits from doctors, noting that Stanford is "in the throes of a major depression."
Stanford has been hospitalized twice during his detainment; once after suffering an irregular heartbeat on the eve of a scheduled court appearance, and again after being assaulted by a fellow inmate. The filing also notes that Stanford has been placed in solitary confinement on multiple occasions, even though he has not been convicted of anything.
"Mr. Stanford's continued incarceration is inconsistent with the presumption of innocence," the filing says.
Stanford is scheduled to go on trial in January, 2011, in a case that is expected to last up to six months. If that is the case, the motion argues, Stanford will have been in custody at least 774 days without any determination that he committed a crime.
The government has argued—and U.S. District Judge David Hittner and a federal appeals court have twice agreed—that Stanford's extensive international ties make him a flight risk. The new filing argues that even if Stanford did have the means to flee last year, he no longer does.
The filing is the first from Stanford's newly reconstituted legal team led by Houston attorney Robert Bennett. It comes just days after another Houston attorney, Michael Essmeyer, became the fifth defense lawyer to ask to withdraw from the case.