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Petters’ Associate Vennes Gets 15 Years in Prison

Tom Petters (Sherburne County Jail photo)

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – A former associate of convicted Minnesota businessman Tom Petters has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for lying to investors about a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme.

U.S. District Judge Richard Kyle on Friday sentenced Frank Vennes Jr. to the full amount called for in Vennes’ plea agreement with federal prosecutors. Reports say attorneys for Vennes had sought a lesser sentence.

Vennes pleaded guilty in February to charges of securities fraud and money laundering. For more than a decade, Vennes acted as a financial conduit between Petters and hedge funds in the Twin Cities and Florida. Vennes collected commissions exceeding $100 million for his efforts in raising money for Petters.

Petters was convicted in 2009 of orchestrating the Ponzi scheme and is serving a 50-year prison sentence.

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