Stanford back in Texas court for bail decision

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Allen Stanford, who faces criminal charges related to a massive Ponzi scheme, was back in a Texas courthouse on Friday waiting to find out whether he can be released on $500,000 bail as the government fights for continued detention of the accused swindler.

Federal prosecutors, who believe the billionaire is a flight risk, have asked that U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy's order to release Stanford on bail be postponed until a U.S. district judge can reconsider the matter.

The stay is appropriate because there is a strong likelihood that the extraordinary flight risk indicators in this case will lead this court to order Stanford's detention or, at minimum, set a substantially higher bond, the government said in court papers filed on Friday.

On Thursday, Judge Stacy said Stanford may leave federal custody, provided he comes up with $100,000 for a cash bond, lives with his girlfriend in a Houston high-rise apartment and wears a tracking device.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who is assigned to hear the criminal case, has until the end of Friday to decide whether to keep Stanford in custody until he can review the magistrate judge's release order.

Stanford, 59, pleaded not guilty to the charges on Thursday. He has been locked up since last week when he surrendered to federal agents in Virginia.

Stanford, who appeared at Thursday's hearing in a prison-issued orange jumpsuit, was led into the courthouse by U.S. Marshals on Friday morning still shackled but smiling and wearing a suit.

And even at his detention hearing on Thursday, the flamboyant sports patron seemed very relaxed, smiling frequently at his supporters, including his parents, estranged wife, two former girlfriends and at least four of his six children.

Paul Pelletier, a federal prosecutor, argued at the detention hearing on Thursday that Stanford has the motive to flee because if convicted, he faces life in prison.

Stanford also has a network of wealthy acquaintances to tap for financial support and he may have access to large sums of money that the government has not been able to locate, prosecutors said.

Stanford's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, argued his client had been left destitute by a court-ordered asset freeze. He also told Judge Stacy that Stanford offered on three occasions to surrender to authorities, a sign that he is willing to stick around and fight the charges.

Stanford and five others were charged last week with fraud, conspiracy and obstruction.

A 21-count indictment lays out a scheme where Stanford and others falsified records and bribed regulators who had oversight of Stanford's offshore bank in Antigua, bilking the bank's investors out of $7 billion.

(Reporting by Anna Driver in Houston, editing by Dave Zimmerman and Matthew Lewis)

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