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Minneapolis, MN (Apr 8th) – At age 52, Thomas Joseph Petters made Minnesota history today receiving what is being called “the longest term of imprisonment ever ordered in a financial fraud case.” Petters sentencing was based upon the belief that any shorter period of time would put him back on the streets potentially picking up, and picking off, “investors” where he left off.
Petters was found guilty of 10 counts of wire fraud, three mail fraud counts, one conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud, one money laundering conspiracy to commit charge, and five additional counts of money laundering. In reference to Petters’ testimony, Judge Kyle said, “It just didn’t pass the smell test.”
Building a massive lifestyle on the “shattered dreams of others,” Petters, assisted by others, bilked billions of dollars in both property and money from investors. Operating under the name Petters Company, Inc., the ponzi scheme involved convincing others that he was purchasing merchandise to be resold at a profit. Instead, funds were diverted for other purposes including lulling payments to investors, kickbacks to those who assisted Petters in his scheme, and “funding businesses owned or controlled by the defendants and financing Tom Petters’ extravagant lifestyle.”
Petters carried out his scheme from 1994 until his arrest and detainment in October, 2008. Indictment charges were filed in December 2008.
Shawn S. Tiller, Postal Inspector in Charge of the Denver Division, and includes the Twin Cities, stated, “The sentencing today of Tom Petters in this $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme is reassurance that the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service will remain at the forefront of investigating cases like these, where the trust and confidence of the American public has been violated through the criminal misuse of the U.S. mail.”
Tiller further concluded, “As long as there are individuals such as Petters and those associated with his company, PCI, who continue to misuse the U.S. mail to steal the hard-earned money of investors and ruin their hopes and dreams of a secure financial future, postal inspectors will be there to ensure that justice is served.”
Case investigation was a joint venture between the FBI, IRS-Criminal Investigation Division, and U.S. Postal Inspection Service. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Joseph T. Dixon, Timothy C. Rank, John F. Docherty, and John R. Marti prosecuted.