Judge Weighs Competency of Alleged Ponzi Scheme Defendant

The New York Times on December 20, 2011 released the following:

By REUTERS

“A prison psychologist who evaluated the financier R. Allen Stanford testified on Tuesday that it would be “incredibly rare” for a patient to suffer from the type of delayed memory loss that Mr. Stanford’s lawyers say makes him incompetent to stand trial.

Lawyers for Mr. Stanford, who is accused of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, have argued that he is incompetent because of an addiction to antianxiety medication and a brain injury suffered in a 2009 jailhouse fight with another inmate.

Mr. Stanford claims he suffers from retrograde amnesia, which prevents him from recalling critical events from his life before the fight. His lawyers plan to call several medical experts to testify about his condition.

Prosecutors, on the other hand, say that Mr. Stanford may have faked memory loss and that there is no evidence to support his claims. They want his trial to proceed as scheduled on Jan. 23. The prison psychologist testified for the government at the start of a mental competency hearing in Houston that will decide if Mr. Stanford’s criminal trial can go forward next month.

The amnesia that Mr. Stanford has described “is incredibly rare. There is hardly any documented medical research,” Dr. Robert Cochrane, the staff psychologist at a federal prison in North Carolina who evaluated Mr. Stanford, testified at the start of a hearing on Tuesday in United States District Court in Houston.

The financier, who once owned luxury homes in the Caribbean, Houston and Miami, has been indicted on charges of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. He has pleaded not guilty.

In November, Mr. Stanford completed more than eight months of treatment at the Butner prison hospital in North Carolina.

United States District Judge David Hittner, who is overseeing the competency hearing, ruled at the start of the proceedings that only medical and mental health professionals could testify.”

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