The Supreme Court on Monday let stand convictions for two former financial executives for helping orchestrate one of the nation's largest-ever Ponzi schemes.
The high court rejected the appeals of defendants Gilbert Lopez Jr. and Mark Kuhrt, who were each sentenced to 20 years in prison for their roles in financier Robert Allen Stanford’s $7 billion swindle of investors.
Lopez, the former chief accounting officer of Stanford Financial Group, along with Kuhrt had appealed their sentences and convictions over a decision that found they weren't harmed by a judge's error in asking the jury to consider whether the defendants had deliberately ignored Stanford's fraud.
The error was deemed harmless because enough evidence had been presented to show that Lopez and Kuhrt both had knowledge of the multibillion-dollar scam.
The two men had argued there was not enough evidence to convict them and that there was reason to overturn their convictions because the appellate courts are split over the amount of evidence needed to show the judge's instructions were harmless.
“There is a persistent, fully percolated split that courts and commentators have recognized — a point the government concedes,” Lopez wrote last month. “Just leaving this confusion in place encourages (increasing) misbehavior, and it makes a mess of the law.”
Prosecutors said Lopez and Kuhrt, who is a former global controller of Stanford Financial Group Global Management, helped hide Stanford's improper use of investor funds.
In 2012, both were found guilty of one count each of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts each of wire fraud.