For the first time since being arrested in 2008,Tom Petters agreed to talk to a reporter about his story.
Twin Cities Business Magazine editor-in-chief Dale Kurschner had a five-hour conversation with Petters and is turning that into a 14-page cover story for the magazine that will hit news stands April 27. For nine months, Kurschner had been sending mail to Petters trying to get this interview. Petters finally agreed to talk.
The article tells what happens from Petters' perspective -- the untold story of the rise and fall of one of Minnesota's most infamous business leaders now sentenced to life in prison.
Kurschner says it's one of the most intriguing, and complex interviews he's ever done. The interview covers multiple topics including Petters' early years building his business, his cocaine use and eventual drug treatment, his personal relationship with long-time associate Deanna Coleman and more.
Petters gives his version of what became a $3.8 billion Ponzi scheme, saying he didn't know what was going on until his offices were raided. He still claims innocence and is appealing his conviction of 50 years in prison. During the day, Petters teaches other inmates how to make business plans.
He spends evenings in the prison library doing research for his possible appeals.
His attorneys last week filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking a review of the case and the sentence. Despite his current circumstances and the probability that he won't leave prison alive, Petters sounds reflectively upbeat.
"I was grateful for the good life I had," Petters said. "I had the opportunity to meet five U.S. presidents. I have an incredible amount of gratitude for the people who helped me. Not a day went by in which I ever knowingly defrauded anyone."