Someone needs to remind R. Allen Stanford that he isn't rich any more. Getting ready to stand trial for a variety of hefty charges, he wanted a strong attorney, particularly Robert Luskin, the Washington-based legal guru who represented Karl Rove. Instead, he's been appointed a federal public defender, according to an Associated Press report.

U.S. District Judge David Hittner tapped the Houston defender's office when Stanford's previous attorney, Dick DeGuerin, indicated that he wanted to withdraw from the case, citing worries that he would not get paid. Luskin has expressed the same concerns.

Stanford initially claimed that he could pay for an attorney using funds from an insurance policy that would cover his legal fees, but it was later revealed that all his assets, including the proceeds from the policy, had been seized. His once-upon-a-time net worth of $2 billion won't do much for him now.

Marjorie Meyers, who heads the public defender's office, said that Michael Sokolow, from her office, will lead the case. After the hearing, Sokolow met with his new client. An attorney from Luskin's law firm, Patton Boggs, was also at the hearing, but he did not participate. According to Meyers, Luskin's firm is still interested in representing Stanford, and a representative of the firm says that it still has a motion pending before the judge – specifically that it would represent Stanford if the judge were to allow Stanford to pay for the firm's services.

The hearing, held Tuesday, had been set for August, originally, but was deferred because of medical complications. Stanford was diagnosed with an aneurysm in his leg (not life-threatening). The 59-year-old alleged fraudster is being housed in a private jail in Conroe, Texas, just north of Houston. He has received medical care, but his former attorney DeGuerin suggests that he needs more – and that the level of care is insufficient.

Stanford has been indicted on 21 counts of a variety of charges, including wire fraud and mail fraud. He has pleaded not guilty.

DeGuerin wished Stanford luck with this and said his former client has "a long, hard road in front of him."


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