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by Bob Geiger Staff Writer
Finance and Commerce | December 10, 2009 3:23 PM CST
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Well, it’s been eight days since Tom Petters was declared guilty on 20 counts of felony fraud. And the series of print ads pointing fingers at business associates of Petters and government prosecutors keeps growing and growing.

When we first visited this subject, we wrote about Minneapolis adman Bill Hillsman, head of North Woods Advertising, creating ads for the so-called Stop the Petters Scam Foundation, which ran a series of finger-pointing newspaper ads in the Minneapolis Star Tribune during jury deliberations.

The jury’s in, but the folks paying to place the ads still seem to have some extra cash to keep them coming. Not to mention the group, whose newspaper ads also are posted on the website www.stopthepettersscam.com, had some ads left on overset.

The Star Tribune earlier this week refused to keep running the ads because North Woods Advertising didn’t sign an advocacy advertising form before the series of ads started running.

That didn’t stop the series of ads from continuing, first on the group’s website with a “Censored by the Star Tribune” tag on them, then, on Thursday, putting a “Now in the (St. Paul) Pioneer Press” notice on both ads censored by the Star Tribune.

Thursday’s ad continued the finger-pointing by the Petters Scam Foundation, which is backed by Ritchie Capital Management LLC, a company that lost millions in the Ponzi scheme Petters was convicted of masterminding.

It highlights Larry Reynolds, a convicted con in the federal witness protection program, and his role helping Petters defraud investors of billions of dollars.

Like all the other ads in the series, Thursday’s ad teases an upcoming Friday ad, which, it claims, will outline “how the misdeed of the Metro Gang Strike Force resemble the government’s handling of the Petters case.”

Look for it in the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

The inve

Rather, government evidence showed, investor funds went to support the money-losing businesses that operated under the Petters Group umbrella, as well as to fund the extravagant lifestyles of Petters and his cronies.

“The conspirators became wealthy off the conspiracy,” said Marti, one of three federal prosecutors on the case.

Petters, the government said, siphoned off $82 million between 2003 and 2008 for his personal bank accounts and $315 million for his companies. White, the government said, personally received $14.5 million in the same period and Coleman took home $14.4 million.

stigation came together in a frenzy, leaving Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti bleary-eyed as the first coconspirators began making appearances to enter guilty pleas in St. Paul last fall. “Like the song says, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead,’” Marti said at the time, quoting the lyrics of rocker Warren Zevon.

Petters’ co-conspirators pleaded guilty one after another. They include former executives with Petters Co. Inc., Deanna Coleman and Robert White; business associates Michael Catain of Shorewood and Larry Reynolds of Los Angeles; hedge fund manager Gregory Bell of suburban Chicago, and one of his accounting executives, Harold Alan Katz.

But Petters held fast to his claim of innocence, testifying in the 18-day trial that he had trusted some people too much to run the company after his son John was fatally stabbed in Italy during a college study trip in 2004.

Most of the Petters business enterprise has been dismantled. Polaroid Corp. was auctioned off for $85.9 million in a bankruptcy proceeding this year and the remainder of Petters’ business and personal property is being liquidated for disbursement to his many creditors, who likely will get pennies on the dollar.

The case against Peters began on Sept. 8, 2008, when Coleman — a longtime employee, confidante and onetime lover — went to federal authorities and gave them their first look at a massive investor fraud scheme.

The government wasted no time to get to the bottom of the operation and immediately fitted Coleman with an undercover recording devices. The government had her race back to corporate headquarters to begin recording hours and hours of discussions between herself, Petters and other intimates within the Petters scheme.

The government played 70 excerpts of those tapes for a total of 17 hours and 37 minutes. They presented the core of the government’s case with Petters, who at one point is caught declaring, “This is one big (expletive) fraud. That’s what it is.”

The fraud collapsed on Sept. 24, 2008, when scores of federal agents raided the corporate headquarters of Petters Group Worldwide in Minnetonka and the personal residences of Petters and his accomplices.

One Response to “Petters print run continues, in the Pioneer Press”

  1. Richard Hettler says:

    glad to see the PI Press picked this up- btw, you should remove alleged from all references on your website- Petters is convicted and there is nothing left alleged.

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