The chief investment officer for Texas billionaire R. Allen Stanford's companies, Laura Pendergest-Holt, pled not guilty Thursday to one count of conspiracy and one count of obstruction. She remains free on a $300,000 bond issued after she was arrested in February on an obstruction charge.
"Not guilty," said a relaxed Pendergest-Holt, who smiled occasionally at the hearing on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Mary Milloy in Houston.
The judge set a trial date of July 20. Pendergest-Holt's lawyers asked the judge to have their client's ankle monitor removed, and said she plans to move to North Carolina.
"I'm looking forward to trying this case as soon as possible," said Dan Cogdell, a Houston lawyer for Pendergest-Holt who was encouraged that his client will be tried separately from Stanford and Davis.
Pendergest-Holt became the first person indicted in a federal investigation of an alleged massive Ponzi scheme.
A Houston federal grand jury indicted Pendergest-Holt on one count of conspiring to obstruct a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into the Stanford Financial Group and a second count of obstructing the investigation.
Each count carries up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Pendergest-Holt's attorney said he expects federal prosecutors will seek additional indictments against other Stanford executives. "She will plead not guilty and looks forward to fighting the charges," attorney Jeff Tillotson said.
"She was truthful in everything she did and we intend on proving that." A Justice Department spokesman declined to comment.