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By Associated Press

HOUSTON – A judge in Texas has sentenced one of the last two defendants convicted for helping disgraced financier R. Allen Stanford bilk investors out of more than $7 billion in one of the biggest Ponzi schemes in U.S. history.

Gilbert Lopez Jr., the ex-chief accounting officer for one of Stanford’s companies, was sentenced to 20 years in prison during a hearing Thursday in Houston federal court.

Lopez’s attorney says his client is remorseful for investor losses.

Another defendant, Mark Kuhrt, is set to be sentenced later today.

Prosecutors say Lopez and Kuhrt helped hide Stanford’s misuse of investor funds. Stanford was convicted last year on 13 fraud-related counts and sentenced to 110 years in prison.

Two other former executives with Stanford’s now dismantled business empire – Laura Pendergest-Holt and James M. Davis – were sentenced previously.

Scores of Mississippians lost life savings and retirement funds in 2009 when the Stanford financial empire collapsed under the weight of a federal investigation.

Holt is a Baldwyn native and Davis lived in the Dry Creek community of Union County.

They worked out of Stanford offices in Memphis and Tupelo.

Holt is serving a three-year sentence for obstructing the federal investigation.

Davis hasn’t begun to serve a five-year sentence, the result of leniency and his substantial cooperation with prosecutors as their chief witness against Stanford and the others.

• Patsy R. Brumfield with the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal contributed to this report.

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