Laura Pendergest-Holt, former chief investment officer for Stanford Financial Group (SFG) of Houston, pleaded guilty on June 21 to obstructing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Stanford International Bank (SIB).
According to the factual basis for the plea, Pendergest-Holt pleaded guilty to a single count of obstruction in connection to sworn testimony she provided when appearing before the SEC on Feb. 10, 2009, in Fort Worth. Pendergest-Holt had earlier pleaded not guilty to fraud and conspiracy charges related to an alleged conspiracy to defraud investors who bought about $7 billion in certificates of deposit sold through SIB. Her plea averts a trial set for September.
Pendergest-Holt’s plea before Senior U.S. District Judge David Hittner came one week after Hittner sentenced former SFG Chairman R. Allen Stanford to 110 years in prison. In March, a federal court jury found Stanford guilty of 13 of 14 criminal counts against him. Jurors found him not guilty of one count of wire fraud.
If Hittner accepts Pendergest-Holt’s plea deal in United States v. Laura Pendergest-Holt, she will be sentenced to three years in prison and three years of supervised release after that. The deal calls for a fine of up to $250,000. Hittner scheduled her sentencing for Sept. 13.
Chris Flood of Flood & Flood in Houston, who represents Pendergest-Holt, declines comment due to a gag order in the case. Jason Varnado, an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Texas, declines comment due to the gag order.
-- Brenda Sapino Jeffreys