Jury selection began this morning in Houston in R. Allen Stanford’s criminal trial.
Stanford, former chairman of Houston’s Stanford Financial Group, faces 14 criminal 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, who wore a gray suit, a blue shirt and no tie today, watched from a seat at the defense table as Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner began voir dire of prospective jurors.
“You’ll find this a very, very challenging morning and a very challenging trial,” Hittner told the 80-member panel. “It’s about as interesting a case as you will find anywhere in the country,” he added before questioning potential jurors individually.
After warning prospective jurors the trial would last “plus or minus six weeks,” Hittner waved around a chess timer to show the panel that he would ensure the lawyers would be accountable for their time.
Hittner introduced lawyers for the government and for Stanford’s defense team, then introduced Stanford to the prospective jurors. The judge said he hoped to have a jury picked by the end of the day.
Stanford then said to the panel, "Thank you for coming, thank you."
A June 2011 superseding indictment in United States v. Robert Allen Stanford lists 14 counts against Stanford: one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and mail fraud; five counts of wire fraud; five counts of mail fraud; one count of conspiracy to obstruct an SEC investigation; one count of obstruction of an SEC investigation; and one count of conspiracy to commit money laundering.
At a pretrial hearing on Jan. 18, Stanford pleaded not guilty to the charges.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys