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Ex-Stanford investment chief sentenced to 3 years

Laura Holt the former chief investment officer for Standford Financial Group was sentenced to three years in prison for obstructing a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission probe of a $7 billion Ponzi scheme at the company.

Pendergest Holt, 39, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Hittner in Houston. She was the third-highest- ranking executive in the financial services firm Texas financier R. Allen Stamford built on what the U.S. said was a fraud based on bogus offshore bank certificates.

“I’m sorry that I was so trusting,” she said in court, fighting back tears. Referring to Stanford, she said, “He didn’t deserve my trust. And in so trusting, I harmed others.”

Her statement drew criticism from Assistant U.S. Attorney Jasopn Varnado.  “She did not plead guilty to trusting others,” Varnado said. “She pled guilty to obstructing the SEC. That’s a serious crime.”

“When it was time to tell the truth, Mrs. Holt chose not to do that,” the prosecutor said, referring to her interviews with the SEC. “She corruptly obstructed justice. She stalled. She delayed. She frustrated their efforts.”