Aging Baton Rouge-area victims of former Texas tycoon R. Allen Stanford's massive Ponzi scheme have taken their decade-old fight to recoup the money they lost to a federal appellate court in New Orleans.

Baton Rouge lawyer Phil Preis, who represents dozens of local investors who suffered about $250 million in damages, filed a notice of appeal last week at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The retirees are challenging U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson's July dismissal of their federal class-action lawsuit and his Aug. 15 denial of their motion to reconsider that decision. The suit was filed in 2009.

The Baton Rouge federal judge ruled in favor of the suit's lone federal court defendant, Pennsylvania-based SEI Investments Co., an international financial services firm that administered the Stanford Group Co. investments.

The suit alleged SEI performed the accounting and reporting of the IRA investments and "actively and materially aided" Stanford Trust Co. and the Stanford Group to "perpetuate the massive Ponzi scheme."

SEI has denied those allegations.

Jackson stated that SEI's liability under the "control-person" provision of Louisiana Securities Law is the issue, and he wrote July 9 that the undisputed facts show SEI did not control Stanford Trust's primary violations of the state's security law.

Preis contends the judge improperly applied the legal standard for what constitutes a control person.

Preis said Thursday it will likely take another year for briefs to the filed at the 5th U.S. Circuit and a hearing to be held.

"Many of these people are dying. They were retirement age 10 years ago. It is truly a sad story," he said.

Stanford Trust was based in Baton Rouge and the Stanford Group — another Stanford entity — had offices in downtown Baton Rouge. Victims of the Ponzi scheme invested their retirement savings as rollover IRAs into certain fraudulent certificates of deposit that Stanford Trust sold in Baton Rouge.

Financial advisers for Stanford told investors their money was safely held in CDs at Stanford International Bank in the Caribbean island of Antigua. The money for the CDs, however, funded the lavish lifestyle of Allen Stanford, who took more than $7 billion from victims worldwide.

Many of the local victims are retirees from Exxon and other plants along the Mississippi River.

Their class-action suit was filed against SEI and the Louisiana Office of Financial Institutions. The claims against OFI remain in Baton Rouge state court, but Preis has said the main focus of the litigation is on SEI.

OFI is accused of turning a blind eye to Stanford's fraud scheme. OFI has stated in court documents that it doesn’t guarantee that investors in companies the agency regulates, such as Stanford Trust Co., won't lose money to fraudulent conduct.

Allen Stanford was convicted of fraud in 2012 and is serving a 110-year prison term for the Ponzi scheme.

In a Ponzi scheme, named for the 1920s swindler Charles Ponzi, the operator pays returns to early investors by funneling to them the money put in by later investors, rather than with any profits earned by shrewd trading. The apparent high rate of return lures new investors and re-investments.

Ponzi schemes collapse, as Stanford's did, when sufficient numbers of prospective new investors can't be persuaded to add more money to the pot, and periodic payments cease.

Email Joe Gyan Jr. at jgyan@theadvocate.com.