Two Petters Co’s Plead Guilty, Will Not Be Fined
Two of Tom Petters' former companies pled guilty Wednesday to their roles in the $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme orchestrated by their former leader.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joe Dixon confirmed by phone Thursday morning that Petters Group Worldwide, LLC, and subsidiary Petters Company, Inc., each pleaded guilty to single counts of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud and wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering.
The guilty pleas were expected, as they are part of a “coordination agreement” reached last month between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Petters' court-appointed receiver and bankruptcy trustee, Doug Kelley. The agreement was approved by a U.S. District Court judge on September 14 and by a bankruptcy judge on September 24.
Per the agreement, Petters' court-appointed receiver and bankruptcy trustee, Doug Kelley, entered guilty pleas for the two Petters companies, which were charged with fraud and conspiracy-and in exchange, the government agreed not to seek criminal or civil forfeiture or attempt to acquire corporate assets of still-operational companies associated with Petters, like Sun Country Airlines.
“We want all the assets to be available for the creditor victims,” explained Dixon. “My hope with the coordination agreement is that we maximize recovery to victims as quickly as possible.”
Dixon said that each of the two Petters companies could have been required to pay an $87 million criminal fine for their roles in the fraud scheme. But prosecutors recommended that there be no criminal fine so as to return as much money as possible to the victims.
Former Wayzata businessman Tom Petters was found guilty in December of 20 felony counts relating to fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, for orchestrating a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme that spanned a decade.
Petters, who maintains his innocence, was sentenced to 50 years in prison in April. His attorney filed a formal notice of appeal later that month.
Four of the seven co-conspirators who pleaded guilty to charges related to the fraud scheme-Deanna Coleman, Michael Catain, Larry Reynolds, and Robert White-were sentenced earlier this month. Gregory Bell was sentenced Thursday to six years in prison. Meanwhile, Harold Alan Katz is scheduled to be sentenced Friday, and a date has not yet been set for James Wehmhoff's sentencing.