After spending a week in jail, Texas financier Allen Stanford on Thursday will face a U.S. judge who will decide whether the he must remain behind bars while he awaits trial for an alleged $7 billion swindle.
The once high-flying billionaire and sports promoter has been in federal custody since June 18, when he surrendered to the FBI in Virginia after a Houston grand jury indicted him on 21 counts of conspiracy, fraud and obstruction of justice.
Stanford, 59, a native of Mexia, Texas, could face life in prison if convicted of the charges.
Stanford, who arrived at the courthouse early this morning, is scheduled to appear at 10:00 a.m. CDT (1500 GMT) before a U.S. magistrate in Houston who will rule on whether he must remain in federal custody pending trial.
According to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Stanford, with the help of top executives at his firm and a top Antigua financial regulator, ran a massive Ponzi scheme for over a decade that centered on certificates of deposit in his bank in Antigua.
Stanford says he is innocent of the charges and that his multinational business was legitimate until the SEC disemboweled it by filing charges, which led to the confiscation of all his assets by a court-appointed receiver.
At a detention hearing in Richmond, Virginia, on June 19, Justice Department lawyers convinced U.S. Magistrate Hannah Lauch that Stanford should remain in custody pending his Houston appearance on Thursday. Since then, Stanford has spent time in detention centers in Virginia and recently in Conroe, Texas, about an hour north of Houston.
The Justice Department is expected to oppose a motion from Stanford's lawyers to grant bail on Thursday.
According to Dick DeGuerin, Stanford's criminal attorney, his client is not a flight risk, and the government should not force him to take a perp walk, where the accused is paraded in manacles in front of television cameras.
Stanford has already offered to surrender to U.S. authorities three times, and was denied each time because the government did not have a warrant for his arrest.
The government has engineered circumstances designed to thwart Allen Stanford's efforts to voluntarily surrender and appear, DeGuerin said in court papers filed on Wednesday. Allen Stanford has shown he is not a flight risk through his actions thus far.
DeGuerin cited five high-profile white-collar crime cases where pretrial release of defendants was granted -- including confessed swindler Bernard Madoff and former HealthSouth Corp head Richard Scrushy, who is serving a seven-year prison term for bribery.
Three other former Stanford employees are also expected to appear separately on Thursday.
They are Laura Pendergest-Holt, the former chief investment officer for Stanford Financial Group, charged with obstructing the SEC's investigation of Stanford, and two accountants charged with helping him falsify financial records.