Creditors besiege Petters, Coleman [UPDATED]Published 10:54am Monday, March 5, 2012 Updated 12:55pm Monday, March 5, 2012
Former Twin Cities businessman Tom Petters, convicted in 2009 for a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme, is serving a 50-year sentence.
Elbow Lake native and whistleblower Deanna Coleman, the former vice president of operations at the Petters firm, served one year in prison and was released in 2011.
If you think Petters and Coleman are off the hook, think again. They’re being pursued from creditors, if not directly, then indirectly.
They’ve also been vilified on the television program, “American Greed” narrated by Stacy Keach.
Ritchie Capital Management, a Chicago hedge fund, announced a few days ago that it is suing Petters’ former law firm for having “materially aided” in the $3.65 billion fraud. Ritchie’s complaint, according to Minnesota Public Radio, alleges that Minneapolis-based Fredrikson and Byron “substantially assisted or encouraged” the actions by Petters and his deputies that rendered a $150 million loan to the fraudster “worthless.”
The law firm Fredrikson responded by saying the lawsuit “has no merit” and will be dismissed because it does not describe a single fact that would support a claim that the law firm did anything wrong.
Ritchie’s lawsuit also names Petters and Elbow lake native Coleman. Ritchie has previously sued two other former Petters executives and former Petters portfolio company Polaroid Corp.
To make matters even more complicated is that the hedge fund itself has been sued several times in the case, by the court-appointed receiver, Barclays Bank and Polaroid.
Fergus Falls area residents and others here in Otter Tail County may remember “American Greed” narrator Stacy Keach from other TV performances.
Keach is an award-winning actor of stage, film and television. He is well known for his portrayals of Detective Mike Hammer and Ernest Hemingway, for which he won a Best Actor Golden Globe Award.
He is currently co-starring in the new feature film “The Bourne Legacy.” On Broadway in New York he has performed in Other Desert Cities.”
Petters was known as The Golden Boy of business and appeared to be at the top of his game. He was the founder, CEO and sole owner of Petters Group Worldwide.
“He boasted billions in revenue and ownership of 150 companies,” said Keach while hosting “American Greed,” including Polaroid and Sun Country Airlines.
Petters’ sterling reputation helped bring in billions of investment dollars from people around the world.”
Petters sold promissory notes through his wholesale brokerage firm Petters Company Inc. He offered stunning returns of 15 to 20 percent. Investors believed PCI was dealing in electronics and consumer goods, but there was no real merchandise bought and sold.
“No goods existed and money from new investors was used to pay back old investors plus interest,” reported Star-Tribune staff writer David Phelps.
Coleman, 45, graduated from Elbow Lake-Wendell High School in 1984. She decided to save herself and take her boss down.
Her assets have been under the control of court-appointed receiver Doug Kelley since 2008 and are being sold to raise cash for victims.
The show, “American Greed,” also has done special programs on Bernie Madoff’s life behind bars as well as the history of mob money.
Now in its fourth season, the show is a hit as it covers many stories about high profile cases.
“The scams and schemes show that some people will do anything for money,” said Keach. “‘American Greed’ examines the dark side of the American Dream.”