The R. Allen Stanford legal defense story keeps getting stranger and stranger.
While the securities world waits for the inevitable indictment of the Texas financier, he keeps going through lawyers with the same speed the alleged Ponzi mastermind was said to date women. Last week Stanford replaced his civil litigation defense team with a group of lawyers from the little-known Washington, D.C.-based law firm The Gulf Law Group.
The Gulf firm bills itself as a “full-service firm,” but it mainly appears to be a law firm specializing in admiralty and maritime law. On the firm’s homepage there are photographs of a lighthouse, a cargo ship and offshore drilling platform.
Securities law does not appear to be one of the firm’s specialities. Yet that’s just what Stanford, who allegedly sold some $8 billion in dubious certificates of deposits to investors, needs. On Feb. 17, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Stanford with civil fraud and its widely expected that federal prosecutors ultimately will criminally charge him too.
Ruth Schuster, a partner in the Gulf law firm, recently signed her a name to court motion, filed by Stanford, opposing a $20 million fee request by the court-appointed receiver for Stanford’s former financial empire. And another lawyer in the Gulf firm is reaching out to former Stanford employers to see if they would offer supportive testimony for their ex-boss.
A spokeswoman with Qorvis Commuications, a public relations firm working with Stanford, says other lawyers are also working with the Gulf firm on the civil case. And he still has hot-shot criminal lawyer Dick DeGuerin waiting in the wings. DeGuerin was the architect of those puzzling TV interviews Stanford was giving a few weeks ago, in which he alternatively cried and threatened to punch a few reporters.
But maybe the selection of the Gulf firm isn’t as odd as it may seem. There is something a little Thurston Howell III about Stanford, a man who managed to get himself knighted in Antigua–the island nation he almost single-handily took over. Or, as one former Stanford employee: “Hey, his ship is sunk.”