Judge denies appeal, accuses Petters of trying 'one final con' - KMSP-TV

SENTENCE UPHELD: Judge says Petters 'tried to pull off one final con'

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On Thursday, a federal judge denied Tom Petters' last appeal to shave 20 years off his 50-year sentence for his convictions in the $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme the Minnesota businessman finally admitted to.

In late October, Petters admitted guilt for the first time as he tried to argue that his lawyers were "ineffective" because he claims he never knew a 30-year plea deal was on the table until after he had been sentenced.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle didn't believe it. In his ruling, he wrote, "Petters' last-ditch attempt to escape just punishment for his crimes does not hold water."

Kyle determined that Petters' attorneys repeatedly told him of the potential plea bargain, and accused Petters of trying "to pull off one final con" in his pursuit of a shorter sentence.

In the order denying the appeal, Kyle tore apart Petters' argument that his right to counsel was compromised by ineptitude. According to Kyle, no formal plea offer was ever made to Petters -- no documentation, no negotiation, no contract drafted.

"It would strain logic to the extreme to conclude that well-versed criminal defense lawyers would ignore their long-established ethical obligations and keep Petters out of the loop," Kyle argued.

Instead, Kyle says Petters attorneys only held vague oral discussions on the prospect since no deal detailing specific charges and terms had been drafted.

Furthermore, Kyle wrote that even if the government had made a formal proposal to Petters, evidence conclusively shows that his legal counsel repeatedly informed him of the possibility. In fact, the order of denial cites 10 items of testimony from Petters' attorneys.

"The Court finds their testimony was both sincere and credible," Kyle wrote. "It is also corroborated by the copious notes and memoranda prepared by Hopeman."

At times, Kyle's order was scathing in the review of Petters' appeal.

"At the outset, it is noteworthy that the primary evidentiary support for Petters' claim is his own self-serving testimony," Kyle wrote. "But in the Court's view, that testimony is entitled to no weight; for the reasons that follow, the Court concludes that Petters is simply lying in a desperate attempt to save his own skin. The Court is not so easily fooled."

Kyle also criticized Petters' demeanor in court, describing his testimony as "deliberate, measured and calculated."

"He seemed to be a man putting on a show, willing to say or do anything -- including shedding crocodile tears -- to obtain a reduction of the lengthy sentence imposed by this Court," Kyle wrote.

In the end, Kyle concluded that Petters' performance on the witness stand made it clear that his testimony was "unworthy of any credence."

MORE: Read the full order denying Tom Petters' appeal

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