Court Lets Trustee Consolidate Petters Clawback Cases

A federal bankruptcy judge gave trustee Doug Kelley approval to consolidate nine different cases, a move that Kelley said solidifies his ability to pursue money from large hedge funds.

The court-appointed trustee tasked with collecting “false profits” from the Tom Petters-orchestrated Ponzi scheme has been given the green light to consolidate nine bankruptcy cases.

In the wake of Petters’ $3.78 billion Ponzi scheme, which unraveled in 2008, the federal government named Minneapolis attorney Doug Kelley as trustee, tasking him with recovering as much money as possible for the victims of the fraud. To collect ill-gotten gains, Kelley filed so-called “clawback” lawsuits against a wide variety of defendants. (Twin Cities Business explored the clawback attempts in an in-depth 2011 cover story.)

More than five years after the fraud came to light, Kelley is still working to track down funds. On Friday, a federal bankruptcy judge, in a 107-page court filing, granted Kelley’s motion to consolidate nine outstanding bankruptcy cases, in part because the judge agreed that bringing the cases together would save money and could benefit creditors.

Kelley has collected about $310 million so far from all sources but says there are still about $1.7 billion in “false profits” outstanding that he’s trying to obtain, much of which is held by large hedge funds, according to a Pioneer Press report. Of the 202 clawback cases that Kelley filed, about 75 have reportedly been resolved.

Kelley said that Friday’s ruling “solidifies my ability to pursue the large hedge funds,” the St. Paul newspaper reported.

Petters is currently serving a 50-year prison sentence. He recently traveled to Minnesota to argue for a more lenient sentence, contending that he was not made aware of an earlier plea deal offer. While in court, Petters admitted guilt, saying he would have taken a plea offer of 30 years back in 2009 before his trial, the Star Tribune reported.