Tom Petters finally admits guilt, tells judge: "I'm begging for your forgiveness"

Categories: Tom Petters
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Five years after he was convicted of masterminding a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, Tom Petters was back in court in St. Paul today trying to get his sentence reduced by 20 years.

RELATED: Tom Petters, convicted Ponzi schemer, teaches fellow inmates business classes

Petters was sentenced to 50 years in prison, but now claims his defense team didn't inform him about a federal plea offer of a 30-year sentence until after he was convicted.

According to a Star Tribune report, in a legal brief, Petters' attorney, Steve Meshbesher, writes, "After the verdict was read and entered, [Petters] was visited by [defense attorney Jon] Hopeman in the holding cell at which time Mr. Hopeman stated, 'Well, we had to go to trial [because] we could only get you a 30-year minimum deal'... [Petters] affirms that prior to that he had never been informed of the government's offer."

But the attorney representing Hopeman and other members of Petters' defense team told the Strib, "The motion is laughable that these incredibly accomplished attorneys would do what is alleged with this [allegation] coming from the most accomplished fraudster in Minnesota history."

In a separate court filing, Hopeman himself wrote, "For most of the time I represented Mr. Petters, he had little or no interest in pleading guilty to any crime... Mr. Petters said he had no interest in a deal that would require him to serve so much time."

During today's hearing, Petters admitted guilt for the first time and begged a federal judge to show him mercy. Tom Hauser live tweeted from the courtroom: We'll update this post after the judge's ruling is issued.

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at arupar@citypages.com.


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19 comments
scott.luse
scott.luse

He is one sick bastard. Good luck Tom. Taxpayers will pay for your 95th birthday and laugh about it. How is Tracy doing? She gonna wait it out? Heard she was. Banging a couple of other guys.

Deanna should have gotten 20 years.

lakestella
lakestella

His lying to investors is what created his ponzi scheme. Then, he lied his way thru the trial, blaming everyone else except himself to try to avoid prison. Now he is lying again to try to get a reduced sentence. What credibility does this man have? NONE! He rolled the dice by going to trial and it didn't work out and now wants a do-over. I am trusting the judge will do the right thing.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

We live in a sick, sick society.  When Tom Petters was at the height and everybody in the Twin Cities media and social climber circles was falling all over themselves to kiss his ass, I ran into him from time to time on the gala/benefit and business meeting circuit.  He seemed like an OK guy, but an obvious grifter.  Not so obvious that I could tell him from all the other grifters working that side of the street.  I mean, he wasn't Denny Hecker obvious, or even whatever the hell Harvey Mackay is.

But one night he did an event a friend of mine worked, and that guy told me the next morning, "Tom Petters showed up late, like he never does, his face was GREY and he couldn't stop sweating.  He gave his little speech like normal, but he cut the schmoozing short.  Did you hear, was he having a heart attack or something?"  We went online to see if the guy had keeled over and saw that no, he was being arrested for fraud.  Neither one of us were the least bit surprised.  

I don't know anybody who could see just how he could take obviously dead companies and somehow be a billionaire.  Apparently the glitterati and flatterers of rich people and the people who have very little sense but a lot of money to invest could see how Petters did it, and they loved him because he personified their social mythology.  Their worldview couldn't be bullshit if a guy like Tom Petters was out there, making it huge on grit and moxie.

So why do I say we live in a sick society?

If you go rape somebody with violent viciousness, you'll get around 10 years in prison if you have an even OK attorney.  If you go down for Murder in the First Degree, you'll get 30 years and if you keep it even somewhat together in prison you'll get out in 20-25 years.

But if you rip off wealthy investors who, if they had as many brains as dollars would never talk to you, like Tom Petters did, you get 50 years.  If you rip off celebrities who thought you would give them the benefits of insider trading, you get 150 years, like Bernie Madoff.

Shit, Madoff and Petters should have robbed liquor stores and killed the clerks.  They'd get out of prison a lot faster, and our social elites wouldn't remember their names.

But take money away from people who have so much of it they can't be bothered to think about where they're putting it, and we'll lock you up for the rest of your life, and vilify your memory.

The real crime in our society is to give the lie to our mythology of greed.  Killing and raping doesn't matter compared to that.

A sick, sick society.

Nicholas S. Goers
Nicholas S. Goers

50 years in prison for a ponzi scheme for Petters and 6.5 years in prison for taking someones life while drunk driving... What a great Criminal Justice System!

Sandra Fredine
Sandra Fredine

Too late. With a documented 432 victims 50 years amounts to a little over a month each.

Aricka Sundstrom
Aricka Sundstrom

Let the fucker rot in jail, he ruined people's lives for a lot longer than 20 years. Don't do the crime if you can't do the time!

TweetsAreYours
TweetsAreYours

Of course he's not the same guy after five years in a grey bar hotel. It doesn't matter, you were a father when you bilked people out of billions. You chose to be a father, you chose to be a fraud. Unfortunate for your kids, but you don't deserve to spend time with them ever again. Rot in jail, Tommy. #TweetsAreYours

Stan Walsh
Stan Walsh

News media, and more importantly, judges: Stop listening to the lame excuses used by criminals after they have committed a crime. They are all lies.

Jason Gabbert
Jason Gabbert

The federal government does the same thing, yet they get fat salaries, pensions and lots of perks.

Edward Bertsch
Edward Bertsch

He stole money. He stole a lot of money. But people do way less time for violent crime. People who murder. Who murdered before. With long histories of violent crime. They skate before this guy. It doesn't quite make sense.

Alirox
Alirox

You mentioned the Unholy Trinity of cheeseball salesmen in one post: Petters, Hecker and Mackay so you get a 'like'.

lakestella
lakestella

@swmnguy : I agree with much of what you wrote. However, you are forgetting that for 1st degree murder you can get life without parole or in some states the death penalty. Granted, Petter's 50 years is essentially a life sentence............

MNjoe
MNjoe topcommenter

@Jason Gabbert Haw! Haw! What an intellegent comment. If you hate government so much, why don't you move to the Liberaterian paradise of Somalia? Small government, low taxes, you can step outside your hut and fire your AK in any direction and no one will give a shit.  You can beat your wife, molest your kids - no one can tell YOU how to live your life! Grow up, asshole.

TweetsAreYours
TweetsAreYours

@Edward Bertsch two wrongs won't make a right. we're far too lenient with criminals, in part because of the cost of incarceration, but that doesn't mean Tommy should get off the hook early. he scarred many people, some for life, I'm sure. that's as heinous as one assault.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@Alirox If I could have figured out a way to get Billy Mays and Herb Tarlek in there for the Exacta, you know I would have gone there.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@lakestella That's true; you can get Death elsewhere, or life without parole for Murder 1.  

But you clearly did get the point I was making.  I don't mean to minimize what Petters did.  But I've known people who have been raped.  I've known people who were murdered, and who lost loved ones to murder in one way or another; those who had to rebuild a life with someone who had been raped, in one horrible case torture/raped, those who discover they or a loved one had been sexually abused as children, etc.  Humans are incredibly resilient.  I've known people who have rebuilt amazingly functional lives from some horrific stuff.  But there's no coming back from being murdered.  And Tom Petters didn't murder anybody, yet he gets more time than many who did.

That tells you something about our priorities as a society.  And I think it's pretty sick.

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