Stanford Execs Get 20 Years for Ponzi Scheme

     HOUSTON (CN) - Two former Stanford Financial Group executives will serve 20 years in prison for furthering a $7 billion Ponzi scheme, a federal judge ruled Thursday.
     Gilbert Lopez Jr., 70, had been chief accounting officer of Stanford; and Mark Kuhrt, 40, had been the company's global management controller.
     Their former boss, Robert Allen Stanford, is already serving 110 years in federal prison for using Stanford International Bank assets to fund his business ventures and lavish lifestyle.
     After a five-week trial in 2012, a jury convicted Lopez and Kuhrt guilty on 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.
     The Houston men have been in custody since that November verdict awaiting sentencing.
     In addition to the prison terms, U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced the pair to serve three years of supervised release. Lopez must also pay a $25,000 fine.
     Hittner chided both men at the Thursday sentencing hearing for obstructing justice by committing perjury at trial.
     James Davis, former chief financial officer of Stanford, had been a key witness against Stanford, Lopez and Kuhrt. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to just 60 months in prison for his cooperation.
     Jurors found that Lopez and Kuhrt had knew about and tracked Stanford's misuse of assets, concealed that misuse from the public and most co-workers, and actively worked to evade discovery.
     During the economic crash in late 2008, they also supported a lie Stanford told investors about having infused hundreds of millions of dollars into Stanford International Bank.
     That effort involved masking a $63.5 billion land deal as one valued at $3.2 billion.