By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
HOUSTON, Texas – Day 14 begins today in the federal trial of two former Stanford Financial Group executives.
Global Controller Mark Kuhrt, 40, and Chief Accounting Officer Gilberto Lopez, 70, face charges they actively assisted CEO R. Allen Stanford in perpetrating a $7.2 billion investor fraud.
They were indicted on 10 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which could send them to prison for more than 20 years, if convicted. The men pleaded not guilty after they were indicted with Stanford in June 2009.
The trial began Oct. 17, after two days of jury selection, in Houston, where Stanford built his financial empire.
Last March, a jury found Stanford guilty of masterminding a Ponzi scheme on investors. He is serving a 110-year sentence.
Court records show that testimony was given early in the Kuhrt-Lopez trial by former Stanford chief financial officer James M. Davis, who once lived in Union County and worked out of Stanford’s Tupelo office.
Davis was the government’s chief witness against Stanford. He is hoping his cooperation will result in leniency for a maximum 30-year sentence.
He hasn’t been sentenced, but recently Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt, who was Stanford’s chief investment officer, was sentenced to three years in prison for obstruction of the federal investigation into the company.
“This trial is about two high-level corporate accountants who knew about the biggest part of the fraud and actively worked behind the scenes for years to cover it up,” Jeffrey Goldberg, a U.S. Justice Department prosecutor told the jury in the trial’s first day.