Drama addiction: Petters planned to leave country

As the Tom Petters drama continues to unfold, we seriously can't get enough of it. It's like a really bad TV movie all taking place on our home turf. Keep it coming!

Last Friday, we reported that Petters, CEO of Petters Group Worldwide, is being held in jail until Tuesday after prosecutors charged him Friday with running a massive fraud scheme that involved more than 20 investors and investment groups and took in more than $1 billion.

And according to the Star Tribune report, holding him in jail is crucial:

According to federal authorities, his arrest may have come just in time.

Assistant U.S. Attorney John Marti asked the court to hold Petters without bail pending trial, describing him in court papers as "a serious risk" to flee from charges prosecutors said could lead to life in prison.

In a secretly recorded conversation, Marti wrote, Petters said he had not intended to be in the country by the time of the presidential debates.

Federal investigators raided Petters' home and company headquarters in Minnetonka on Sept. 24. The first presidential debate took place Sept. 26.

We weren't joking when we said he was spending his free time well since stepping down. He was spending all of his time planning his big escape!

In other Petters news, a reformed convict (or so we thought) might also be involved in the fraud.

According to the Star Tribune report:

Frank Vennes Jr. was in the Sandstone Federal Correctional Institution on money-laundering, drug and firearm charges in 1987 when a prison volunteer suggested that he behave like the Apostle Paul and give thanks for his circumstances.

Vennes later said in an interview that the talk caused him to turn his life over to God.

Vennes, 50, went from being a former felon and owner of a pawnshop in Bismarck, N.D., to a multimillionaire philanthropist who runs numerous companies and has major land holdings in Minnesota and Florida. In his spare time, he gave inspirational talks to prisoners about how he'd left behind a life of crime to become a success.

But on Sept. 24, Vennes' Shorewood home was one of nine sites raided by federal agents investigating an alleged Ponzi scheme involving prominent businessman Tom Petters, who was arrested Friday at his Wayzata home.

The government is investigating allegations that Petters, Vennes and other associates raised funds from investors for the purchase and resale of electronic goods that actually didn't exist, then used the money for other purposes.

Vennes, who has not been charged, did not return calls seeking comment for this report.

Karma. Don't pretend to be reformed and then so easily embarrass yourself. You won't get much pity from us, we guarantee it.

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