Petters Associate Robert White Receives Five Years

Robert White, a consultant who helped Tom Petters forge financial documents, had requested a lighter sentence for his cooperation with authorities and his role in bringing down Petters' fraud scheme.

Tom Petters accomplice Robert White was sentenced Wednesday to five years in prison for his role in Petters' $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, according to court documents.

In July, White-a consultant who helped Petters forge financial documents-requested a lenient sentence, arguing that he played a critical role in bringing down Petters' massive fraud scheme.

The sentence, which was handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Richard Kyle, involves a longer prison term than White had requested, but it is considerably less than the maximum sentence he faced.

White pleaded guilty in the case and admitted to charges of mail fraud and money laundering, which carry maximum sentences of 10 and 20 years, respectively. His plea agreement with prosecutors anticipated a recommended sentence of about 17 years to 20 years under federal guidelines.

White claimed that it was his idea to notify authorities about the fraud scheme and that whistleblower Deanna Coleman betrayed their plan to go to authorities together. Earlier this month, Coleman was sentenced to one year in prison-a light sentence that awarded her for her role in bringing the Ponzi scheme to an end.

After authorities raided Petters' businesses and home in September 2008, White immediately began cooperating with authorities, according to court documents filed by White's attorney. White wore a wire that recorded a conversation in which Petters discussed his intention to flee-which was later used as evidence showing that Petters was a flight risk and kept him in custody pending trial.

White is one of seven people who pleaded guilty to charges related to Petters' Ponzi scheme.

Michael Catain-who faced up to 20 years in prison on a charge of conspiracy to commit money laundering-was sentenced Monday to seven-and-a-half years in prison.

On Tuesday, Larry Reynolds-who pleaded guilty to money laundering conspiracy in 2008-was sentenced to 10 years and 10 months in prison.

Other Petters accomplices to be sentenced in the coming weeks (along with the dates and times of their scheduled sentencings) include:

  • James Wehmhoff: September 21 at 9:30 a.m. He's a former accountant of Petters Group Worldwide who pleaded guilty to charges that he withheld taxable income.
  • Gregory Bell: September 30 at 10 a.m. He's an Illinois hedge fund manager who pleaded guilty to wire fraud.
  • Harold Alan Katz: October 1 at 9:30 a.m. He's an Illinois accountant who created fraudulent banking transactions for Bell.