Petters guilty on 20 counts

Former part-time Manalapan resident Tom Petters was found guilty Dec. 2 of masterminding a $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme. Jurors in St. Paul, Minn. found the Minnesota businessman guilty on 20 counts including wire fraud, mail fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. According to the government, Petters attracted massive investments from hedge funds and other institutions, ostensibly to buy consumer electronic goods and re-sell them to national big-box stores like Wal-Mart and Costco. But there was actually little or no merchandise and the operation consisted mostly of faking documents and keeping the cash. “The verdict speaks clear,” one of three federal prosecutors on the case told the media following the verdict. “The Petters Company was a fraud and the company was Mr. Petters’ company.” In July, a court-appointed receiver sold Petters’ Manalapan home for $9.5 million. Petters faces up to life in prison. His attorneys say they plan to appeal. — Mary Kate Leming
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