Gilbert T. Lopez Jr., the former chief accounting officer of Stanford Financial Group Company, and Mark J. Kuhrt, the former global controller of Stanford Financial Group Global Management, were each sentenced today to 20 years in prison for their roles in helping Robert Allen Stanford perpetrate a fraud scheme involving Stanford International Bank (SIB). Both were convicted by a Houston federal jury on Nov. 19, 2012.
The sentences were announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson of the Southern District of Texas; FBI Assistant Director Kevin Perkins of the Criminal Investigative Division; Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employee Benefits Security Administration Phyllis C. Borzi; Chief Postal Inspector Guy J. Cottrell; and Special Agent in Charge Lucy Cruz of Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation.
The trial against Lopez and Kuhrt spanned five weeks. After approximately three days of deliberations, the jury found both Lopez, 70, and Kuhrt, 40, both of Houston, guilty of 10 of 11 counts in the indictment. Each defendant was convicted of one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud. Each was found not guilty on one wire fraud count. Both defendants were taken into custody immediately following the jury’s verdict.
In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Judge David Hittner, who presided over the trial, sentenced Lopez and Kuhrt to serve three years of supervised release and ordered Lopez to pay a $25,000 fine. At today’s hearing, Judge Hittner also found that both defendants obstructed justice by committing perjury at trial.
Stanford, who was previously convicted in a separate trial, illegally used billions of dollars of SIB’s assets to fund his personal business ventures, to live a lavish lifestyle and for other improper purposes. He was later sentenced to 110 years in prison. James M. Davis, Stanford’s chief financial officer – who pleaded guilty and cooperated with the government soon after SIB was shut down in February 2009 and testified at both Stanford’s trial and the trial of Lopez and Kuhrt – was sentenced to 60 months in prison for his role in the scheme.
The evidence presented at Lopez and Kuhrt’s trial established that they were aware of and tracked Stanford’s misuse of SIB’s assets, kept the misuse hidden from the public and from almost all of Stanford’s other employees and worked behind the scenes to prevent the misuse from being discovered. They also helped Stanford falsely represent to SIB customers during the economic crash in late 2008 that Stanford had infused hundreds of millions of dollars into SIB when he had not. As part of that effort, Lopez and Kuhrt helped design a fraudulent real estate transaction that involved falsely inflating parcels of land purchased at $63.5 million to a purported value of $3.2 billion.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI, U.S. Postal Inspection Service, IRS-CI and the U.S. Department of Labor, Employee Benefits Security Administration. The case was prosecuted by Deputy Chief Jeffrey Goldberg and Trial Attorney Andrew Warren of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section, and by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Varnado of the Southern District of Texas.