Judge rules Pendergest-Holt will get separate trial

HOUSTON, Texas – Failed financier Allen Stanford, accused of running a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme, will face trial by himself, a U.S. federal judge said Wednesday, granting motions by Stanford co-defendants to have separate trials.

Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt was one of those co-defendants. She was Stanford’s chief investment officer until the financial empire collapsed in the spring of 2009.

Stanford’s jury trial will proceed on Jan. 24, 2011, while the co-defendants will be tried together after the end of that trial, U.S. District Judge David Hittner said in a two-page ruling.

Stanford and Holt are accused in a 21-count indictment of various roles in a Ponzi scheme focused on Stanford Financial Group’s fraudulent sale of certificates of deposit issued by his Antigua bank.

Last week, prosecutors urged Hittner not to sever the trial, telling him it would be a waste of judicial resources to allow Holt to get her own trial.

She argued “egregious and circus-like conduct” by Stanford and his latest set of lawyers could jeopardize her right to a fair trial.

Former Stanford accounting executives Mark Kuhrt and Gilbert Lopez then joined her motion.

Daily Journal