In a state still reeling from Bernie Madoff and staggering toward 10 percent unemployment, it's tough to think of many adjectives less likely to endear you to the commoners than So you have to give Allen Stanford some credit for finding a way to make himself even less sympathetic today in his first interview since the SEC accused him of running an $8 billion Ponzi scheme out of his international bank in Antigua and a network of offices, including a major firm in downtown Miami.
As you can read in New Times in our next cover story this Wednesday, a litany of would-be whistleblowers in South Florida over the past six years called Stanford out as a fraud -- all to no avail.
But in the meantime, enjoy Stanford's truly remarkable moment in public relations catastrophe, as the heavily mustached Texan:
- Responds to a question about accusations of money laundering with the well-reasoned response: "If you say it again to my face, I will punch you in the mouth."
- Laments that his six corporate jets have been taken away and he's been forced to fly commercial for the first time in 20 years, noting in despair: "They make you take your shoes off and everything -- it's terrible."
- Weeps openly as he talks about how the SEC's charges have tragically prevented him from being listed as Forbes' 405th wealthiest person in the world.
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Perhaps none of this should come as a surprise from a man who purchased a 57-bedroom Coral Gables waterfront estate -- complete with a pub, moat, series of grottos, and throne-like toilet -- which he rechristened "Tyecliffe Castle."
A few other key moments, courtesy of ABC's interview, include:
- Stanford lashing out when asked what he thought about being compared to Bernie Madoff, shouting, "Bullshit. That's bullshit. It makes me madder than hell and it touches the core of my soul."
- Stanford blaming the SEC's incurable thirst for taking down rich Texans (the longest-persecuted minority in America, of course), for his troubles, saying, "I'm the maverick rich Texan where they can put the moose head on the wall. And that's the only reason they went after me."
- And last but not least, Stanford's defense of his business tactics: "I would go to Hell and die if it were a Ponzi scheme."