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January 27, 2011 4:37 PM

Court: Allen Stanford Incompetent to Stand Trial

Posted by Brian Baxter

U.S. district court judge David Hittner in Houston ruled on Wednesday that Allen Stanford, a Texas financier accused of running a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, was mentally incompetent to stand trial.

Earlier this month Hittner delayed a trial scheduled to begin on January 24 after psychiatrists testified that Stanford was suffering from depression and addicted to a cocktail of antianxiety and antidepressant drugs, which doctors blame for Stanford's frequent fits of delirium.

While Hittner agreed with Stanford's counsel that their client does not have the mental capacity to face trial, he rejected a request to release Stanford on bond to receive treatment at a private medical facility.

"It is not lost on the court that Stanford's motion to be released to a local mental facility for treatment may be yet another attempt by Stanford to be released on bond," Hittner wrote in his ruling, The New York Times reports. "The court's finding that Stanford is incompetent, however, does not alter the court's finding that Stanford is a flight risk and that no combination of conditions of pretrial release can reasonably assure his appearance at trial."

Hittner also ordered further evaluations of a head injury suffered by Stanford during a brutal jailhouse beating in 2009, ruling that the defendant should be treated for any lingering effects.

Stanford, who has made a practice of hiring and firing his defense counsel every few months, is currently being represented by Robert Scardino, Jr., and Ali Fazel of Houston's Scardino & Fazel. A new trial date has not yet been set.

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