HOUSTON - Jailed Texas financier R. Allen Stanford is mentally competent to stand trial on charges his firm bilked investors out of $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme, a judge ruled yesterday. US District Judge David Hittner’s decision came after a nearly three-day competency hearing for the disgraced financier. Stanford’s trial is set for Jan. 23.
Stanford had been declared incompetent in January due to an anti-anxiety drug addiction he developed while jailed in Houston. He spent more than eight months at a federal prison hospital in Butner, N.C., getting treatment for his addiction and being evaluated to determine if he had any long-term effects from being injured in a September 2009 jail fight.
A forensic psychologist who helped treat Stanford at the prison hospital testified the financier is now competent and can think clearly after being taken off the drug.
But four medical specialists who testified on Stanford’s behalf, including a neurologist and two forensic psychiatrists, said the financier suffered a traumatic brain injury in the jail fight that left him with severe memory loss and unable to think or communicate clearly.
Doctors who treated Stanford at the prison hospital and prosecutors accused him of faking symptoms of amnesia. He says he can’t remember all events in his life prior to the prison fight.
Stanford and three former executives are accused of orchestrating a pyramid scheme that advised clients to invest more than $7 billion in certificates of deposit, promising huge returns.