The alleged multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme of Tom Petters is easily one of the biggest fraud cases in Minnesota history, but Petters seems to believe that the state's largest newspaper shouldn't be paying it much attention. That makes sense.
Citing multiple instances of ...GASP... a newspaper reporting the facts, Petters's lawyers are requesting to move his trial. The Star Tribune's coverage has ruined the jury pool, they say.
When Petters Group Worldwide headquarters were searched, the media became immediately transfixed with the case, his lawyers say in their motion to move the trial. Well, duh. View the full document here.
These events were widely reported in the Twin Cities news media. Mr. Petters thus became a headline, the story of the year, a transfixed name used to sell advertising.While their main point seems to be the releasing of data by the government during the investigation, the lawyers seem to focus their attention on what the Star Tribune reported.
Soon began a cycle of daily dispatches. On one day, Mr. Petters global investors had sued him and his business entities. On another Mr. Petters resigned from his companies. On another Teen Challenge was at financial risk, a charity that had received millions by virtue of Mr. Petters well known generosity. Then ministers and nonprofits sued Mr. Petters for fraud. On yet another day Sun Country Airlines faced fiscal jeopardy, the possibility of Minnesota job losses, bankruptcy protection an eventual option. Yet another day brought news of a Petters warehouse store closing. All of this against the backdrop of a financial crisis causing rising unemployment and deep public anxiety.Hm, it appears to us that the Star Tribune was doing their job: reporting the news. The document then even goes to cite reader comments on the Star Tribune site. Potential jurors! As if people who says "I hope this puke gets life" would actually make it through to the final jury pool.
We invite the Government to view what it has spawned by visiting the Star Tribune website, where space is reserved for Special Report: The Tom Petters Fraud Case. Hundreds of articles are collected, each toxic and birthed by the Government. Most of the articles in the newsprint copy of the Star Tribune were placed on the front page, with Mr. Petters featured in his orange suit.
Here is how the Strib responded:
Editor Nancy Barnes defended the newspaper's coverage. "From the day this story broke, the allegations in the Petters case have suggested that we are dealing with one of the largest frauds ever to surface in Minnesota," she said. "The ramifications have been swift and painful for many individual investors, major local businesses and their employees, and local charities. We have covered this story aggressively, as any responsible media organization would."
As for public comments on the Star Tribune's website, Barnes said: "We allow commenting on our website on a wide variety of stories so that readers can share their opinions on stories in the news."