- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 16, 2009

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Sal Lazzara needed some new office furniture. Thanks to a flamboyant financier’s downfall, he found a matching set with an infamous pedigree.

For $1,500, the Boca Raton restaurateur bought a maroon leather chair, a cherry-wood desk and a credenza - all once owned by Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford, whom the Securities and Exchange Commission has accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme.

Mr. Lazzara discovered his new furnishings at AMC Liquidators - “Value in Volume” is its slogan - a South Florida company that hauled out 25 truckloads of luxury office goods from the disgraced businessman’s Miami offices last week and put them on the market.

Mr. Stanford had adorned four floors in a downtown high-rise with Oriental rugs, regal marble-topped tables and leather couches. He had bronze eagles (the symbol of his company, Stanford Financial Group) and blown-up photos of Palm Beach County polo grounds that he sponsored.

From the looks of things, Mr. Stanford - or his decorator - favored dark wood, maroon leather and heavy gold picture frames. Tufted sofas, wing chairs and delicately carved occasional tables predominated. Think Queen Anne-meets-Donald Trump.

There’s even a tapestry depicting Louis XIV, France’s legendary 17th-century “sun king.”

“The quality of this stuff is just really nice,” said Mr. Lazzara, standing in the AMC showroom and patting the nearly new desk. He thinks he saved 70 percent off retail. “I got a steal,” he said.

Valued at $2 million, the bounty for sale in Fort Lauderdale was only a small part of Mr. Stanford’s lavish lifestyle. In 2008, he was named the world’s 605th richest person by Forbes magazine, with an estimated worth of $2 billion.

Court documents revealed details such as $100 million in private jets, $100,000 weekly yacht rentals and, in his Houston headquarters, a professional kitchen. Mr. Stanford also used the title “sir” in 2006 after being knighted by the leaders of Antigua and Barbuda.

In his heyday, Mr. Stanford was a dominant figure in his adopted island homeland and also held considerable influence in Washington, where his campaign donations, mostly to Democrats, reached a peak as efforts to strengthen financial regulations died in the Senate.

In February, U.S. federal regulators sued Mr. Stanford, accusing him of fraud, saying he promised clients unrealistic returns on $8 billion in certificates of deposit and other financial fraud through an offshore bank in Antigua. In March, a federal judge said the government could go after at least $226.6 million in back taxes, penalties and interest.

Mr. Stanford denies the SEC’s accusations, and he has not been charged with any crimes. But a federal judge in Dallas has named a receiver to liquidate the company, and the contents of Stanford offices are being sold.

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