A federal judge ruled that a $335,000 fund held by Faegre Baker Daniels on behalf of a co-conspirator in the Tom Petters Ponzi scheme must be turned over to a court receiver.
The law firm held the trust account — which sat untouched with Faegre since 2008 — on behalf of Frank Vennes Jr. and his wife. The money was generated by the sale of rare coins and a diamond ring from Vennes to his wife and was a retainer for her legal fees.
"Based on the record before it, the court concludes that the coins and ring were property under Frank Vennes' ownership or control that should have been disclosed as a receivership asset and should have been included for distribution," wrote U.S. District Judge Ann Montgomery in her ruling.
Montgomery said the money must be turned over to the receiver who liquidated Vennes' estate.
The judge said receiver Gary Hansen can also request expenses from Faegre and Vennes in connection with his effort to obtain the funds in the trust account.
Hansen collected and distributed about $19 million from the Vennes estate for distribution to creditors and people who invested money that Vennes lost in the fraudulent Petters operation.
Vennes is serving a 15-year prison sentence for his role as a fundraiser for Petters.
Petters is serving a 50-year prison sentence in the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan.