UPDATE: Pendergest-Holt sentence 3 years in Stanford scandal

By PATSY R. BRUMFIELD/Daily Journal

HOUSTON, Texas – Baldwyn native Laura Pendergest-Holt was sentenced to three years today for attempting to obstruct a federal investigation of the Stanford financial empire.

Holt, 38, appeared with her attorneys in the same Houston courtroom where her former boss, R. Allen Stanford, was convicted last March on multiple counts he masterminded a $7.2 billion Ponzi scheme on some 20,000 investors worldwide.

The scheme was based on the sale of fake certificates of deposit through Stanford International Bank Ltd., based in Antigua. Many investors mistakenly believed the CDs were federally insured. Holt was chief investment officer for Stanford Financial Group based in Memphis. Stanford also had Mississippi offices in Tupelo and Jackson.

Most victims – who lost their retirement funds and live savings – have not received any compensation for their losses. The entire Stanford financial empire, based in Houston, came crashing down in early 2009 under the weight of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Holt admitted she lied to the SEC hearing about Stanford investments and the integrity of its products. Stanford is serving a 110-year prison sentence at a Florida maximum security facility. In a deal with the government, Holt pleaded guilty June 21 to one count and faces up to five years in prison.

Her deal recommends three years. She’ll appeared before District Judge David Hittner. Co-defendants Mark Kuhrt and Gilbert Lopez, other former Stanford executives, are set for trial in Houston starting Sept. 28.

Read more in Friday’s NEMS Daily Journal newspaper.