Best Scandal (2009)

Tom Petters

Minnesotans love a bit of schadenfreude. We just can't help it—it's hard-wired into the DNA of the state's settlers and has seeped into the consciousness of civic life. So when one of the richest folks in the state lands in jail, accused of running a massive Ponzi scheme...well, the schadenfreude hit overdrive. The indictment reads like a laundry list of the current economic meltdown. Following his arrest in October was a torrent of alleged misdeeds by the businessman, whose empire included not just his own titular stores but Sun Country Airlines and Polaroid. In all, Petters and his cronies (several of whom have already pleaded guilty and are ready to turn on their former associate) are said to have bilked investors out of billions of dollars over more than a decade. As details emerge about the style in which Petters and the rest were living (traveling in a private 727, owning several multimillion-dollar homes), you can sense the secret pleasure at his troubles. However the case ends, it has already caused several businesses to be shuttered and employees to lose their jobs. So maybe that schadenfreude should really turn to anger.