We’ve written this before, but it’s true again: R. Allen Stanford, former chairman of Stanford Financial Group, has a new lawyer. This time it’s in the civil suit the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filed against Stanford, some of his former co-workers at Stanford Financial Group, and some of his companies. On April 4, U.S. District Judge David Godbey of the Northern District of Texas granted a motion to allow Michael Sydow and The Sydow Firm of Houston to withdraw from representing Stanford and his companies. And on April 1, Godbey granted a motion to allow Ruth Brewer Schuster of The Brewer Law Group of Washington, D.C., along with other lawyers from her firm, to withdraw from representing Stanford and his companies in Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stanford International Bank Ltd, et al. Stanford’s new lawyer in the civil suit is Stephen Cochell of The Cochell Law Firm of Houston. In October 2010, Cochell sought to represent Stanford in his criminal case, but U.S. District Judge David Hittner of the Southern District of Texas appointed Houston criminal-defense lawyers Robert A. Scardino Jr. and Ali R. Fazel of The Law Offices of Scardino & Fazel to defend Stanford from criminal charges. They replaced Robert S. Bennett of Bennett Nguyen Joint Venture, but a long list of criminal-defense attorneys have represented Stanford since his indictment in June 2009. On Feb. 17, 2009, the SEC filed the civil complaint against Stanford, two colleagues and three of his companies for allegedly engaging in a $9.2 billion investment fraud. The defendants have denied the allegations, but SFG and related companies have been under federal receivership since the suit was filed. Four months later, Stanford, three other SFG executives, and a former bank regulator in Antigua were indicted on fraud and obstruction charges in connection with an alleged conspiracy to defraud investors who bought about $7 billion in certificates of deposit sold through Stanford International Bank Ltd. Stanford has pleaded not guilty, and his trial is pending. Schuster did not immediately return a telephone message and calls to Sydow’s office were not answered. Cochell says he agreed to represent Stanford and his companies in the SEC suit because “it’s a case that needed to be done.” He says he isn’t being paid. In October 2010, U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas of Houston issued an order that insurance companies holding the directors-and-officers policies for SFG are not required to pay for the defense of Stanford and others in the criminal case, United States v. Robert Allen Stanford, et al., or in the SEC civil suit.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys