Petters To Appeal

Dec 4 2009 | 10:41am ET

Convicted Ponzi schemer Thomas Petters plans to appeal the jury verdict that could send him to prison for the rest of his life.

The Minnesota businessman and hedge fund manager won’t learn his sentence for a “couple months,” U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle said on Wednesday, when a jury found Petters guilty of 20 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. But Petters’ team isn’t waiting to find out, announcing plans to appeal the conviction.

“This fight is far from over as far as Mr. Petters is concerned,” Jon Hoperman, his lawyer, said. “We have not begun to fight.”

Petter’s $3.65 billion fraud, which came to light just months before the much larger Ponzi scheme orchestrated by Bernard Madoff collapsed, involved selling bogus notes linked to consumer electronics sales which prosecutors say never actually happened. Investors in Petters Co. were told they were buying bulk electronics which were being resold to big-box retailers.

At least 20 hedge funds were the chief victims of the scheme, according to the complaint, and at least one allegedly helped Petters cover up his scam. In October, Lancelot Investment Management founder Gregory Bell pleaded guilty to mail fraud, admitting he co-engineered a series of bogus “roundtrip” transactions with Petters designed to hide losses and keep the Ponzi scheme afloat.

Petters, whose business empire once also included Polaroid Corp. and Sun Country Airlines, claimed the fraud was orchestrated by his underlings without his knowledge.

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