MINNEAPOLIS — A Minnesota businessman convicted of engineering a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme now lives in a two-person prison cell, awakened at 6 a.m. each day by clanging door locks.
Tom Petters, who led the Petters Group Worldwide corporate empire until it collapsed in 2008, now teaches other inmates at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kan., how to develop business plans. His bank balance now averages $100 a month. He spends his evenings in the prison library, researching ways he might overturn his conviction and a 50-year sentence that could keep the 54-year-old in prison for the rest of his life, Twin Cities Business magazine reported Wednesday.
In his first media interview since before his arrest in 2008, Petters continued to maintain his innocence. Similar to his testimony at trial, he said he was betrayed by trusted associates who took a legitimate business and turned it into a Ponzi scheme behind his back.
Editor Dale Kurschner, who conducted the five-hour interview, wrote that Petters “looks tan, well-groomed, physically fit, and overall, healthy. He’s calm, positive, exhibits a good sense of humor, and is passionate about his former business activities and goals.”