Appeals court affirms Petters conviction, sentenceby Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A federal appeals court Friday upheld the conviction and 50-year prison sentence of Minnesota businessman Tom Petters.
He was found guilty of orchestrating a $3.7 billion Ponzi scheme in 2009.
The Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected defense attorney complaints about restrictions on their ability to question a key prosecution witness about his links to organized crime. That witness, Larry Reynolds, was a convicted felon and disbarred lawyer who was in the witness protection program.
The judicial panel also said the trial judge acted properly when he rejected certain proposed jury instructions. The language would have highlighted Petters' claim he was an unwitting participant in a fraud conceived by others.
Jurors found Petters used fake purchase orders and phony bank records to dupe investors into financing sham purchases and sales of consumer electronics that never existed.
Petters is serving his sentence in the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan.