Title sponsor-turned-con man faces prison

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HOUSTON - R. Allen Stanford, the former Texas financier whose golf sponsorships included tournaments and players on the PGA and LPGA tours, was convicted Tuesday in U.S. District Court of bilking investors of $7 billion in a massive Ponzi scheme.

Stanford, 61, the former head of the Stanford Financial Group in Houston and once one of the wealthiest men in America, was found guilty on 13 of 14 counts in the criminal indictment, including fraud, conspiracy and obstruction. He was found not guilty on one count of wire fraud.

Stanford, who has been jailed since his 2009 indictment, awaits sentencing on the charges, the most severe of which carries a 20-year prison term. He could serve a longer time in prison if the judge rules that the sentences run consecutively.

His attorneys have indicated that they plan to appeal the jury’s verdict.

The government’s complaint focused on the Stanford Financial Group’s sale of high-yielding, uninsured certificates of deposit in the firm’s bank in Antigua.

In his heyday, Stanford, whose net worth was a reported $2 billion, title-sponsored the annual Memphis, Tenn., stop on the PGA Tour, the Stanford International Pro-Am and the Tour Championship on the LPGA and such notable players as Vijay Singh, Henrik Stenson, David Toms, Camilo Villegas and Morgan Pressel.

In the wake of the fallout from the financial shell game, court receivers had sued the PGA Tour, IMG, Toms and others, seeking to recoup millions from what the court-sanctioned investors’ committee alleged were ill-gotten gains from the Stanford empire.

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