Texas financier R. Allen Stanford’s trial on charges he bilked investors out of $7 billion as part of a massive Ponzi scheme will begin in January 2011, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

The date chosen by U.S. District Judge David Hittner is earlier than the summer of 2011, which was requested by attorneys for Stanford and three other executives of the now-defunct Stanford Financial Group. Defense attorneys had argued they needed the extra time to sort through 5.5 million documents to prepare their cases.