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Judge blasts Petters; denies final appeal in ponzi scheme


A federal judge has denied Tom Petters' last appeal to shave 20 years off of his 50-year sentence following convictions in a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

In late October, Petters appeared in court on a final appeal of his sentence, in which he admitted guilt for the first time. Petters argued that he was never informed of a potential plea bargain that would have allowed him to plead guilty in exchange for a shorter prison sentence.

Petters, 56, was convicted in 2009 of running a Ponzi scheme. He was convicted on 20 counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering.

FOX 9 reports that U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle did not believe Petters' argument that his lawyers were "ineffective." He was also critical of Petters's courtroom demeanor.

He wrote, "Petters' testimony was, in the Court's view, deliberate, measured and calculated. He seemed to be a man putting on a show, willing to say or do anything – including shedding crocodile tears – to obtain a reduction of the lengthy sentence imposed by this Court."

In the order, Kyle determined that Petters' attorneys repeatedly told him of the potential plea bargain. He accused Petters of trying "to pull off one final con" in his pursuit of a shorter sentence.

At times Kyle's order was scathing of Petters.

The judge wrote, "At the outset, it is noteworthy that the primary evidentiary support for Petters' claim is his own self-serving testimony. But in the Court's view, that testimony is entitled to no weight; for the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that Petters is simply lying in a desperate attempt to save his own skin. The Court is not so easily fooled."

Kyle summed up the order, "Petters' last ditch-attempt to escape punishment for his crimes does not hold water; he received constitutionally effective counsel and his sentence was not unlawful. He is entitled to neither relief nor sympathy from this Court."

The Associated Press reports that Petters' attorney, Steve Meshbesher says that Petters and his family are disappointed with the ruling. He added that they are looking at options.

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