Well, this is most discouraging! It seemed that for once we might have a real fugitive financier story on our hands, a story about an accused criminal investor who could get lost and actually stay lost for more than half a second. But no, on Thursday Allen Stanford, the alleged ringleader of an $8 billion investment fraud who had been missing since Tuesday, turned up in Virginia and was served with court papers.
Stanford turned over his passport but he wasn't arrested -- leaving open the minute but tantalizing possibility that he might yet try to flee the country through some glamorously elaborate scheme while he's not yet in the clink.
You have to hand it to Stanford. Unlike Marcus Schrenker, he had the dignity to get caught just sitting in a car in Fredericksburg instead of holed up in some tragic North Florida campground. And unlike Bernard Madoff, he had the moxie to at least attempt to get out of Dodge by booking a private jet to Antigua. (The jet company turned down his credit card, alas.)
At the end of the day, Stanford was apprehended, and if found guilty will presumably be punished in some manner or another. But this victory for justice rings a little hollow: the chase was brief, the missing money just a fraction of what Madoff -- or any of our nation's legitimate investment entities --- took.
So here is a proposal: let Stanford go. Give him a passport, 200 grand, and a 72-hour lead. He's our last best hope for a proper financial fugitive.