Stanford executive pleads not guilty to criminal charges

By Calvin Palmer

Laura Pendergest-Holt, the chief investment officer of Stanford Financial Group, pleaded not guilty today in Houston to charges of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice.

Pendergest-Holt, 35, is the first person to be criminally indicted in the federal investigation of R. Allen Stanford’s banking and network of financial services companies.

She was freed on a $300,000 bond. Her trial was set for July 20.

If convicted, Pendergest-Holt could face up to five years in prison on each count.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil lawsuit on February 17, alleging an $8 billion fraud by Pendergest-Holt, Stanford, finance chief James M. Davis and three Stanford Financial Group companies.

Billionaire Stanford has said he expects to be indicted. Davis is cooperating with the SEC investigation, according to his lawyers.

[Based on a report by the Associated Press.]

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