Tom Petters finally admits guilt, tells judge: "I'm begging for your forgiveness"
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:
Petters is serving his sentence in federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. His release date is April 25, 2052, just before his 95th birthday.-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
A tearful Tom Petters admits for the first time in court he is guilty of a massive Ponzi scheme.-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
Appearing at a hearing in an orange prison jump suit, Petters admits his company was "robbing Peter to pay Paul."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
Petters tells federal judge he lied in court during his trial. "I was scared. I was scared to death."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
Petters says he wanted to avoid a life sentence. "I kept thinking about my kids and being kept away from them the rest of my life."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
Petters apologized to Judge Richard Kyle for lying in his courtroom. "I'm begging for your forgiveness."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
Petters admitted to orchestrating the $3.5 billion fraud, but says "I've come full circle in my life."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
In pleading for reduction in sentence, Petters said "I'm not the Tom Petters I thought the world revolved around. I lost my way big time."-- Tom Hauser (@5hauser) October 23, 2013
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 email@example.com.
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