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Tom Petters seeks sympathy as feds recommend life behind bars

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Disgraced businessman Tom Petters' lawyers have filed a sentencing memorandum, helpfully posted by MPR, in which they claim their client embodies "the gestalt of the athlete who should have left the court but who still wants the last shot."

And that's just the opening line. Later come testimonials from friends and family, references to "Resistance, Rebellion and Death" and "The Fall" by philosopher Albert Camus, and a quotation from poet Walt Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." His lawyers say he has a tumor on his pituitary gland that may rob him of his sight, and he doesn't deserve to spend the rest of his life in prison. He's innocent, too. And they plan to appeal his conviction.

Reminder: Petters was convicted last year of running a $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme, what the government calls a fraud of "staggering and unprecedented" size and impact.

The government says:

A life sentence is wholly deserved and justified given the defendant's corrupting influence on individuals and institutions, and his strident refusal to accept any responsibility for the offense and his conduct. Instead, the defendant blamed those around him with demonstrably false testimony and shamelessly and cynically exploited his son's tragic murder in a desperate attempt to avoid his personal responsibility, as he had done throughout his fifteen-year fraud.

From the defense memorandum:

Petters is imperfect yes but not evil. His run at life was rooted in the sale, the moment, the transaction, the unbending faith that tomorrow all will be well. It is the belief system of many a politician who refuses to see defeat and is unbowed by the endless scrutiny, the raising of funds for the next race because life is a race. It is the gestalt of the athlete who should have left the court but who still wants the last shot. It is the analysis that permits recovery from defeat, tempers victories. It is the mantra of American success start with nothing, get up every day, work hard and you'll get somewhere but only if you keep going.

Sentencing is April 8.