Ex-husband in Petters case wants seized funds

  • Article by: DAVID PHELPS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 23, 2009 - 10:59 PM

An informant's former spouse, Allen Munson, says more than $500,000 of money that the government froze is his.

The ex-husband of the key informant who first told authorities that Wayzata businessman Tom Petters had been running a massive fraud scheme since the mid-1990s thinks he's being shortchanged in the government's rush to gather assets from those implicated in the investigation.

Allen Munson claims in newly filed court papers that a financial account totaling $1,015,449 was liquidated without his knowledge or permission even though he and his ex-wife, Deanna Coleman of Plymouth, had equal ownership of the account under the terms of their divorce decree.

Munson, 51, claimed he was "very surprised, indeed shocked," when he learned last fall from news reports of his wife's involvement in the alleged $3.5 billion Ponzi scheme.

Munson and Coleman were married 12 years before signing their final divorce papers on Aug. 26, 2008. Just over a week later, Coleman cut a deal with federal prosecutors to secretly tape record meetings involving Petters and his associates in which the alleged fraud scheme was discussed.

Coleman pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy. As a cooperating witness, she faces a maximum of five years in prison, considerably less than the terms faced by several associates who have pleaded guilty in the case. Petters insists he's innocent and is scheduled for trial in June on a variety of fraud, money laundering and conspiracy charges.

U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery oversees a receivership that administers the personal and business estates of Petters, Coleman and several other defendants. She has scheduled an April 17 hearing at which Munson's attorney, Marshall Tanick, will seek an injunction to set the disputed money aside until its ownership can be established.

Coleman says that all of the money in the joint account came from bonuses she received as a Petters executive and that "her former husband was aware of that," according to Steve Wolter, a lawyer who works with receiver Doug Kelley.

Munson said the account in question is a U.S. Bank Management Agency Stock Account. He said he went to claim his half of the money shortly after he learned of his ex-wife's involvement in the Petters matter, but the bank would not release the funds. Munson later learned from Kelley that the account had been liquidated in the effort to preserve corporate and personal assets of those involved in the alleged fraud for their creditors and investors.

Munson is a carpenter by trade who lives in a $1 million Minnetrista home that he retained after his divorce from Coleman. He said he got a letter from the U.S. Attorney's Office in early February asking if he had any other of Coleman's assets. Tanick responded that all assets other than the financial account in question had been divided in the divorce decree.

Coleman was paid $330,000 a year as vice president for operations at Petters Co. Inc., and in the four years leading up to the collapse of the alleged scheme collected $8 million in bonuses.

When Munson and Coleman were husband and wife, they frequented Costa Rica, where they owned two luxury condominiums, and Las Vegas, where Coleman was a steady-enough customer to have lines of credit at some casinos.

Tanick said Munson thought everything was aboveboard.

"He was obviously aware she was making substantial money from the Petters group. But he was dumbfounded, as were many others," Tanick said.

Munson can expect Kelley to go after more than the disputed bank account. In a letter sent to Tanick in February, Kelley's office wrote that "the receiver will be contacting Mr. Munson regarding other assets in the near future."

Asked what that might be referring to, Tanick said, "I don't know."

Wolter said the receiver is "following up on assets that may have been given to Mr. Munson and others."

David Phelps • 612-673-7269

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