Pendergest-Holt out of jail on bond

February 27, 2009 9:19:57 PM PST
Stanford Financial Group Chief Investment Officer Laura Pendergest-Holt is out of jail. She was the first person charged criminally in the case. Her attorney told us he put up the $30,000 in bond money, expecting to be reimbursed by her family. [SIGN UP: Get headlines and breaking news sent to you]

Her hearing was one of two Stanford-related ones at the courthouse Friday. While she got what she wanted, thousands investors and employees did not.

After posting $300,000 in bond, Pendergest-Holt walked arm-in-arm with her husband as they left the courthouse. She was wearing an ankle monitor underneath her pantsuit. She does not have to spend a second night in jail.

"I'm very happy to be out," she said.

Pendergest-Holt is accused of failing to tell investigators about a meeting she had with other Stanford officers in preparation for her Feb. 10 testimony to the SEC. The criminal complaint also alleges that she lied about her knowledge of Stanford business.

At the hearing, she wiped away tears. Her attorney said she knows nothing of the $8 billion fraud allegations and that she's taking the fall.

"She relied upon men that she trusted. She relied upon men that she admired. She relied upon men that were honorable to her previously. And this is the reward she got," said attorney Dan Cogdell.

At about the same time in another courtroom, investor Mark Brewer went before a judge asking him to unfreeze money that isn't Stanford's. About 35,000 investors can't touch their accounts. While the judge was sympathetic, he didn't take any action but said he would reconsider if the federal seizure drags on.

"We're hopeful that as early as the beginning of next week, we'll get some relief," said Brewer.

At Stanford's Galleria offices, employees hoping to get their paychecks were turned away on payday. They can't get their money either.

A special agent said that billions are missing which led the SEC to amend its original civil complaint and using stronger language to say that Stanford was nothing more than a "massive Ponzi scheme."

Eyewitness News legal analyst Joel Androphy said that's a harsh allegation. "If you accuse a company of a Ponzi scheme, that's the lowest blow against a company. Because you're basically saying it wasn't a company to begin with," he said.

The amended complaint said that founder Allen Stanford and another officer, James Davis, made almost $2 billion in fake personal loans.

Pendergest-Holt will plead not guilty when she is arraigned in Dallas in a month. Both she and her husband have turned over her passport and she has been ordered to get a job.

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