Houston financier sentenced to 20 years for Ponzi scheme

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HOUSTON — Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford spent more than 20 years charming investors, who handed him billions of dollars they had spent their lives accumulating.

Stanford promised them safe investments, all the while, he was pulling their money out of his Caribbean bank to pay for a string of failed businesses and a jet-setting lifestyle.

Stanford, once considered one of the wealthiest people in the U.S., with a financial empire that spanned the Americas, was convicted Tuesday on charges he bilked investors out of more than $7 billion.

Prosecutors said his business acumen was nothing more than an old-fashioned Ponzi scheme, and jurors convicted him on 13 of 14 charges, including conspiracy, wire and mail fraud. The most serious charges against Stanford carry up to 20 years in prison, and if Hittner ordered him to serve his sentences consecutively, the 61-year-old could spend the rest of his life behind bars.