HOUSTON - A judge says Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford may be freed on bond.

Stanford pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges he swindled investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive investment scam.

Two family members and a friend have agreed to pay $500,000 if Stanford fails to make any court appearances. The agreement also calls for them to leave a $100,000 cash deposit. Stanford also will be required to participate in a GPS location monitoring program.

Stanford entered his plea during his arraignment in federal court. The financier was indicted on charges that his international banking empire was really just a colossal Ponzi scheme.

At his bond hearing, prosecutors argued Stanford should be held without bond because he might have access to billions of dollars in secret funds.

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